3 critical X-factors that will impact Toronto Raptors in playoffs

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 16: Pascal Siakam #43 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 16: Pascal Siakam #43 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
TORONTO, ON – JANUARY 09: Khem Birch #24 of the Toronto Raptors grabs a rebound (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors are likely headed back to the NBA playoffs in 2022 after a one-season hiatus in 2021. Pending an extended losing streak, the Raptors are on the verge of an above .500 season and less than a handful of victories away from officially securing a playoff berth.

Even though Nick Nurse’s team is not super healthy at the moment, they have made some big improvements as this season has progressed. They are right outside the top half of the league in 3-point shooting rising from the bottom third just a few weeks ago.

The team continues to clean the offensive glass at an exceptional rate, averaging just over 13 per game. The values of energy and hustle that Nurse and Masai Ujiri have tied to instill into this team are helping them compete with teams that were expected to be much better.

While the positives have made the 2022 season much more palatable for Raptors fans, there are cracks in the facade that savvy teams might be able to exploit. The playoffs allow opposing coaches to lock in on a team’s weaknesses. Here are 3 X-factors that will impact Toronto in the 2022 playoffs.

3 biggest X-Factors for the Toronto Raptors in playoffs.

3. Defensive Rebounding.

The Raptors are polar opposites at either end of the court in rebounding. They are second in offensive rebounding but last in defensive rebounds. It’s a huge problem because they give up more than 10 second-chance points per contest.

A prime example is a recent loss to the Los Angeles Lakers when Toronto grabbed 16 offensive boards but allowed 13 on the defensive end. Bigger centers like Nikola Vucevic and Jarrett Allen could be licking their lips if they ever have to go up against Toronto in a play-in scenario.

The Toronto Raptors’ inability to rebound on defense is problematic.

This disparity causes several problems. A Toronto team that is aggressive with their perimeter defense has to expend more energy when possessions are extended. Any points Toronto scores on their offensive rebounding are almost all given back at the defensive end.

A major part of the problem is size and girth. The Raptors are a long team, but that lack of height can come back to bite them. The East is filled with teams bigger and stronger in the frontcourt, and it could hurt Toronto in a playoff series.

72 games into the season, the issue isn’t likely to get better. While the Raptors have won more than they’ve lost and have clearly developed some solid workarounds for this problem, an opponent can devise schemes to pick this weakness apart in a seven-game series.