After five years without a postseason appearance, the Toronto Raptors are poised to make the playoffs.
Trying to keep their focus on each game as it comes without looking too far ahead, the Raptors recorded a 99-90 road victory against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night. The win brought them another step closer to their postseason goals.
The team’s next win or New York Knicks loss will clinch a postseason berth for the Raptors. DeMar DeRozan was thinking of his second home when he was asked about what making the postseason will mean.
“Not just the franchise, but the whole city of Toronto and Canada,” DeRozan said. “I’ve been there for five years, seen how passionate the fans are. It definitely means a lot. We feed off of that, especially playing at home and the energy they bring.”
Brushing off a disappointing loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night, the Raptors came out with purpose against the Celtics. Outscoring Boston 31-22 in the first quarter, it was the opposite of getting outscored 26-17 by Cleveland in Tuesday night’s opening quarter.
Boston managed to hang around until the final minutes, but consecutive three-pointers from Kyle Lowry and Terrence Ross with under two minutes remaining sealed the game for Toronto.
“That was a character test for us,” Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said. “We’ve done a good job with our back-to-backs, and after we’ve gotten spanked the night before we’ve bounced back. I think this team has a lot of character. I get upset with them but they’re mine. They’re just like your kids.”
Ross had a team-high 24 points against the Celtics, while Lowry finished with 23 points and nine rebounds. Jonas Valanciunas picked up his team-high 20th double-double of the season with 15 points and 14 boards and DeRozan added 20 points.
“Before the game, I said we can take care of our business tonight,” Lowry said. “We can’t count on anybody else, but we can take care of our business.”
The victory was Toronto’s first in Boston since January 23rd, 2008. The teams will meet again in Toronto on Friday night.
“I haven’t won here since I’ve been a Raptor,” DeRozan said. “It feels good, man, to get that off your shoulders. Like I said we have to keep moving forward.”
With 11 games remaining in the regular season, DeRozan and the Raptors will be happy to officially clinch a postseason spot in the days to come. Still, there’s more on the team’s to-do list than simply getting invited to the postseason party.