Raptors find their playoff pace

Toronto basketball club get the Indiana Pacers for the first round of their third straight trip to the NBA playoffs
The Air Canada Centre will host more Raptors playoff games starting this weekend. @Dreamstime

There was a long time when no sports team in Toronto — not the Jays, not the Raptors, definitely not the Leafs — could be seen in the playoffs. But now? The Jays came within two wins of being in the World Series. And the Toronto Raptors are about to begin their third postseason in the last three years! (As for the Leafs, well, they're rebuilding, which is good, right?) And now Toronto knows who their opponent in the first round will be.

After beating the Philadelphia 76ers 122–98 last night, the Raptors discovered that they'll face the Indiana Pacers in the playoffs this weekend. Toronto won 3 of the 4 games they played against the Pacers this season, which is good news. More good news? Defensive expert DeMarre Carroll (who missed 42 games in a row with knee surgery this season) has now been back in action for three games and is looking better each game.

The bad news for the Raptors? They'll be facing a pretty solid Pacers team, whose lineup includes a big-time scorer in Paul George. The other bad news? In their last two postseasons, the Raptors won 3 games but lost 8 and never made it past the first round. Going back even further? The Raptors are 14-28 all-time in the playoffs and have won only one playoff series (against the New York Knicks in 2001). Yikes. In sports terms, that's starting to enter "curse" territory.

Best season ever

Still, there's a lot to like about the Raptors this year. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are NBA All Stars who are older, fitter, and wiser. The whole team is way better defensively than last year, which is important because defence is a big deal in the playoffs. (Once again, welcome back, DeMarre Carroll!) And above all, the Raptors are having their best season ever. In fact, if they beat Brooklyn tonight, they'll finish the year 56-26, seven wins more than they've ever had. Pretty awesome if you ask me.

(Of course, that still is nothing compared to what the Golden State Warriors are trying to do tonight — if they win, they'll have an insane 73 wins this year, which is one win more than the best record of all-time: the 1995-1996 72-10 Chicago Bulls.)

Anyway, where were we? Oh yeah...LET'S GO, RAPTORS!

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