How the Toronto Raptors’ injuries prepared them for the playoffs in Orlando

Toronto Raptors - Kyle Lowry and Marc Gasol (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Kyle Lowry and Marc Gasol (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /
Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Kyle Lowry and Marc Gasol (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors might lose players to COVID-19 during the postseason. Their continued success despite multiple injuries during the regular season has prepared them for that.

There are many concerns about returning to finish the NBA in the midst of a pandemic with cases surging in Florida, where the league is set to play the remainder of its games. The main concern for most teams is having their star player go down by contracting the novel coronavirus. The Toronto Raptors, however, are ready for this.

In the event where a player does indeed contract COVID-19 then they will be taken to “isolation housing” until they take two tests within a 24-hour period in which said player tests negative. Though the time needed in isolation isn’t specified, it can be speculated that the time off will last at least two weeks.

Two weeks is a long time in basketball, especially if that time period comes during a heated playoff battle. While most teams would crumble if their star player fell ill, the Toronto Raptors are in a much different position than most teams.

Unlike most contenders, the Toronto Raptors aren’t dependent on a single superstar. They have the depth and chemistry to play through any tough scenario.

The Toronto Raptors have had a rough season when it came to keeping players healthy. Since the beginning of 2020, the Raptors have played 30 games —of which only six were played with a fully healthy roster.

In that six-game stretch, they won all of their games, shot 46.8% from the field, 36.4% from beyond the arc, all while netting nearly two more steals per game, 10.5 up from 8.8, and three fewer turnovers per game, 11.2 down from 14.4. While the stats aren’t necessarily astronomical, they were still enough to propel their winning streak at the time to eight games.

The other 24 games, however, have been uphill battles. Marc Gasol missed an extended period of time due to a tight hamstring, Norman Powell faced a multitude of injuries, including one on the last game before the season suspension. Serge Ibaka and Fred Van Vleet also missed their fair share of games, but both returned within a few games.

That still doesn’t erase the fact that the Toronto Raptors were able to win 17 of those 24 games.

When the Toronto Raptors lost during that time frame, they were down at least two players. Toss that in with poor performances from the rest of the team, and you’ll find rather weak shooting percentages (37.5% from the field, 28.5% from three-point range). Bad games happen, it’s normal, especially with a plethora of injuries.

However, when they won the games with injuries, their stat lines mostly reflected that of a healthy Raptors squad. They shot 46.1% from the field and 37.3% from deep, while mostly maintaining their season averages in rebounds, assists, steals, and turnovers.

Despite having their starters and important rotation players gone for multiple games at a time, the Toronto Raptors continued to not only maintain relevance but dominance as well. By the time the season’s suspension started, the Raptors sat at second place in the East with 46 wins and the third-best record in the entire league  — all without a distinguished superstar.

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The Toronto Raptors are battle-tested. Despite having played many games with an injured, depleted roster, they’ve still proven that they can win. Even if one of their players has to be quarantined because of the virus, they can still produce at an elite level.