After a regular season that was marred by injuries, COVID-19 issues and a lack of a true home, the Toronto Raptors 2020-2021 campaign ended on Sunday afternoon following a 125-113 loss to the Indiana Pacers.
The Raptors headed into Sunday’s game with the same thin lineup they’ve been fielding since their elimination, with only 6 players in the rotation. Indiana on the other hand played an almost entirely healthy lineup minus Malcolm Brogdon, as they prepare for a run in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament.
The Pacers were carried offensively by former Toronto Raptor and Mississauga, ON native Oshae Brissett on Sunday, who scored a career-high 31 points on an efficient 10/16 from the floor. Brissett added 3 assists, and grabbed 10 rebounds to complete the double-double. Domantas Sabonis had another excellent game, scoring 25 points and securing a whopping 16 rebounds over a depleted Raptors frontcourt. Doug McDermott scored 20 points in the win, while T.J McConnell and Kelan Martin provided 12 and 13 points off of the bench respectively.
For Toronto, NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for April, Malachi Flynn led the way with another impressive performance; finishing with a career-high 27 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists.
The 23-year-old Flynn has now recorded double-digit point tallies in five straight games, where he’s averaging 19 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 3.2 three-pointers and 1.6 steals.
Stanley Johnson stayed hot with a 24-point 7-assist afternoon, while Khem Birch scored 18 points and hauled in 14 rebounds in the losing effort. As previously mentioned, Toronto ran with a 6-man rotation on the final day of the season, with the lone bench player being Aaron Baynes, who finished with a 14-point 10-rebound double-double.
Indiana took control of the game early on Sunday, putting up 68 points in the first half on a Raptors team that clearly was already on to the offseason. To the Raptors credit, they stuck around and made things difficult for the Pacers in the second half, and kept the game respectable until the final whistle sounded in Tampa Bay.
On a scale much larger than just this afternoon, the Raptors limped to the finish line in what was the first year without a postseason appearance since 2013. Toronto lost 10 of their last 11 games, and finished the year with a 27-45 record, their worst since 2011-2012.
With none of the key names playing late in the season, fans are left to wonder if Kyle Lowry has played his final game in a Raptors uniform, or if he will be brought back in the offseason. Toronto will also have to deal with re-signing Masai Ujiri, in what will be an eventful summer for the 2019 champions.
For Indiana, they will finish 9th in the Eastern Conference after a disappointing year, but will still have a chance to qualify for the playoffs due to the recently added play-in tournament from last season. The Pacers will play against the 10th seeded Charlotte Hornets, and the winner will go up against the loser of the 7 vs. 8 game to determine who takes the 8th place seed in the playoff bracket.
That do-or-die game for the Pacers will take place on Tuesday May 18th at 6:30PM, while the Toronto Raptors will clean their lockers and head home for a long offseason, before hopefully heading back home to Toronto later in 2021.
Flynn – 27 PTS 4 REB 5 AST
Johnson – 24 PTS 5 REB 7 AST
Birch – 18 PTS 14 REB 4 AST
Bembry – 23 PTS 5 REB 4 AST
Brissett – 31 PTS 10 REB 3 AST
Sabonis – 25 PTS 16 REB 5 AST
McDermott – 20 PTS 1 REB 2 AST