3 things Toronto Raptors must fix to catch Celtics in playoff race

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 28: Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors drives on Marcus Smart #36 of the Boston Celtics (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 28: Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors drives on Marcus Smart #36 of the Boston Celtics (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /
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Robert Williams, Toronto Raptors
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – OCTOBER 22: Robert Williams III #44 of the Boston Celtics defends a shot from Precious Achiuwa #5 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

Many would call the 2021-22 Toronto Raptors season a massive success if they make it into the play-in tournament as the No. 7 seed. However, they are just one-half game behind the Boston Celtics for the No. 6 seed, which would help them escape having to jump through some hoops in the play-in.

While the Celtics started the first year of Ime Udoka’s tenure in a very uneven fashion, their newfound defensive identity helped them reel off a long winning streak that helped them keep pace with Toronto during their solid run of form. This is a team no one wants to see in the postseason.

The key to stopping Boston from grabbing that coveted final spot will depend on Toronto fixing some of the issues that have plagued them throughout the season. With the Nets likely waking up as they get healthy and several non-playoff teams in striking distance, Toronto can’t afford to get comfortable now.

If the Raptors can set these goals for themselves and figure out a way to accomplish them, they should pick up enough victories to eventually overtake the Celtics and start imposing their will against the rest of the Eastern Conference.

3 things the Toronto Raptors must do to catch the Boston Celtics.

3. Figure out how to stop big men like Robert Williams

The Raptors were so intrigued by a big man like Williams that they almost tried to trade for the master rebounder and shot-blocker at the deadline. Williams, and many other centers that are capable of asserting their will down in the low post, have given Toronto fits this season.

In just two games against Toronto, Williams recorded an astonishing 11 offensive rebounds while blocking four shots, sending the Raptors to two straight losses following their win in the second game of the season.

With Brooklyn and Atlanta possessing names like Andre Drummond and Clint Capela, Toronto’s performance against Time Lord doesn’t inspire confidence.

The Toronto Raptors need to work on defending big men.

There are limits as to how good they can be in this area, as Pascal Siakam’s versatility and Precious Achiuwa’s surprising skill in this area can only take them so far. If they fail to address this, opposing teams won’t be scared of Toronto no matter how many 6-9 guys are on the floor.

The addition of Thad Young will help in this area, but larger centers like Williams and superstars like Joel Embiid likely won’t be worried about what he can do individually. Even if they make the postseason, a quick exit could be in order if Toronto doesn’t improve slightly in this facet.