Coming off an improbable NBA title in the 2018-2019 season, there would clearly be a new look to the team in 2019-2020 as Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard signed with the Clippers to a three-year, $103 million contract. In the draft the team only had a second-round pick after having traded the first-round pick and DeMar DeRozan to the Spurs for Danny Green and Leonard.
The starting lineup for the team consisted of Marc Gasol, Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, Fred VanVleet and Kyle Lowry. The Raptors got off to a good start, defeating the New Orleans Pelicans, 130-122 behind Siakam’s 34 points. After an 8-4 start, the Raptors went on a seven-game winning streak. However, consecutive losses to Miami, Houston, and Philadelphia ended the hot stretch, leaving them at 15-7 after the first 22 games.
The streakiness of the Raptors continued, winning five of their next six before going on a 4-6 stretch that put them at 25-14 as of January 12, 2020. Despite playing eight of the next 15 games on the road, the Raptors won every game, including games against conference rivals Philadelphia and Indiana.
On March 5, 2020 the Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors to become the second team to clinch a playoff spot for the season. The season was abrupted suspended on March 11 after Rudy Cobert of the Utah Jazz tested positive for COVID-19. After months away, the league resumed play in a “bubble” at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
The Raptors won seven of eight games at the complex, ending the season at 53-19, good for first in the Atlantic Division and number two seed in the playoffs. After disposing the Nets with ease in four games by an average score of 20 points, the Raptors had a much more difficult time against the number three seed Boston Celtics. Toronto lost the first two games by a combined 21 points and narrow escaped going down 0-3 with a one-point win in game three. They notched the series at 2-2 behind Siakam’s 23 points. After falling in game five, the Raptors stayed alive with a two-overtime 125-122 win. However, their season ended after a 92-87 defeat in game seven.
Pascal Siakam took over as the start of the team when Leonard departed. He averaged 22.9 points to lead the team, to go along with 7.3 rebounds per game. Kyle Lowry provided a solid secondary scoring option, averaging over 19 points per game and a team leading 7.5 assists per contest. Fred VanVleet, Norman Powell, Serge Ibaka, and OG Anunoby all averaged in double-digits scoring, showing the depth of the team. Ibaka paced the team in rebounds at 8.2 per game, while VanVleet and Powell were the main outside threats, hitting nearly 40 percent from three-point range.
Looking forward, the Raptors will have the 29th and 59th overall selections in the 2020 NBA Draft which will be held on November 18. The Raptors schedule for the 2020-2021 season is not yet set in place, but will likely begin in mid-January with the expectation to play a full 82 games.Image source - https://pixabay.com/photos/basketball-spalding-ball-sport-933173/