Anyone that tells you they know what’s going on with the Toronto Raptors this season—or with the NBA in general, for that matter—is lying.
Thanks to a COVID outbreak midway through December and injuries to key players sprinkled throughout, the Raptors have rarely been whole during their 2021-22 run, with Sunday’s win over the New York Knicks marking just the fourth time all season in which Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, and Scottie Barnes all played and the first with their top-eight rotation players (in terms of minutes per game) available.
Almost halfway through the season and the Toronto Raptors are 16-17 with the 10th best record in a very competitive the Eastern Conference, with only 3.0 games separating them and the No. 5 seed. The Raptors are 9-10 at home, 7-7 on the road, and 6-4 over their last 10 games, with the 13th best offence and 21st best defence in the league, with a net rating of +0.2.
With the new playoff format that came into effect last season, the top 10 teams in each conference will get a chance to make the playoffs, with a play-in tournament featuring the 7-10 seeds taking place between April 12-15, where two teams will advance to the playoffs.
With the obvious caveat being health and COVID—especially when it comes to Fred VanVleet, who has been the most consistent Raptor this season and is the only reliable point guard on the roster—the Raptors are good enough to continue fighting for a playoff berth, assuming the NBA is still functioning by then. If the Raptors get there, this season should be considered a success, especially given how young and inexperienced the roster is and how deep the conference has become. But it won’t be easy.
Here are the three biggest things that the Raptors need to do in order to make the playoffs this season.