Toronto Raptors: Top Five Games of 2020
2020 has easily one of the most bizarre years to ever take place, especially in the basketball world. The COVID-19 pandemic halted the NBA season on March 11, 2020. It took nearly six months for basketball to return and it did not disappoint.
There may have been a limited number of basketball games played this season, but that did not leave fans unsatisfied. There were a number of great finishes and entertaining games all around the league.
This held true to the Toronto Raptors who were trying to defend their 2019 NBA Championship.
The Raptors exceeded expectations in 2020 and finished just one game away from the Eastern Conference Finals.
Here are the top five games that the Raptors played in 2020.
5. August 1, 2020: Statement Win in Bubble Opener
The Raptors did not have an easy task at hand when the NBA season restarted in the Orlando bubble. Right off the bat, the Raps would take on the eventual NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers.
The Raptors wanted to make it known immediately that they were legitimate contenders for the championship, and boy did they ever. The Raptors took a 13-0 lead less than five minutes into the game.
The Lakers did not go down that easy however as they fought their way back to take a six-point lead in the third quarter.
After some back-and-forth, the Raptors jumped back up to a 13-point lead only for the Lakers to crawl their way back.
This was a game with two of the league’s best teams going head-to-head and could have been a potential preview of the Finals.
With just over six minutes left in the fourth quarter, the score was tied at 83 and overtime felt like a real possibility.
The Raps had other plans, outscoring the Lakers 24-9 and winning with a final score of 107-92.
Kyle Lowry led the Raptors in scoring with a game-high 33 points, 14 rebounds and six assists.
4. February 8, 2020: 14th in a Row
With the Raptors riding a 13-game win streak, the Brooklyn Nets paid a visit to Toronto and nearly snapped the then franchise-record stretch for the Raptors.
After a mostly uneventful first half, the Raptors went to the break leading by a dozen.
They came out of the half flying and pushed that to an 18-point lead. It looked like the Raptors were going to cruise to a 14th straight victory, but the Nets had other plans and slowly climbed their way back into the ball game.
Caris LeVert hit a jumper to tie the game with 35.3 seconds remaining on the clock.
On Toronto’s ensuing possession, Pascal Siakam got fouled with 22.9 seconds remaining. Siakam would only make one of his two free throws which would give Brooklyn a chance to snap the streak.
With the ball in LeVert’s hands, he was hoping to add to his game-high of 37 points to get the win but his shot fell short.
After nearly blowing an 18-point lead, the Raptors would hang on to get their 14th straight ‘W’.
3. February 5, 2020: 12 in a Row
In the first game of a home-and-home series against the Indiana Pacers, the Raptors had a chance to make history. A win in this game would set the new record for the franchises longest win-streak.
Things looked bleak for a while in this game as the Raptors went into halftime down 14.
Things didn’t look much better for Toronto as they were down by as many as 19 in the third quarter.
Led by Kyle Lowry’s 32 points, the Raptors slowly chipped away at the deficit but still found themselves down by 11 with 2:37 left to play.
After a few big plays on both sides of the court, Serge Ibaka hit a three-pointer to give the Raptors a one-point lead with 29.5 seconds remaining.
The Raptors were able to stand tall on the Pacers’ final possession to set a new franchise record of 12 straight wins.
2. September 9, 2020: Eastern Conference Semi-Final Game 6
The Toronto Raptors found themselves on the brink of elimination against the Boston Celtics in the second round of the playoffs.
It was not going to be easy as the Celtics proved to be a handful for the Raptors all series long. They were hungry to win the series and not play in a game seven.
The Raptors kept things close as they entered the second half only being down by four in what was a very tightly contested game throughout. Both teams exchanged leads throughout the second half.
Regulation time would not be enough for this one as the score would be tied at 98 after four.
Norman Powell stepped up big for the Raptors in overtime. Everything he touched seemed to go in, but it still wasn’t enough to decide the game and a second overtime period was needed.
With eleven seconds left to play and only a two-point lead, Kyle Lowry hit a tough fade-away jumper as the shot clock expired.
Powell was able to finish things off with a couple of free throws to force a game seven.
1. September 3, 2020: Eastern Conference Semi-Final Game 3
With the Raptors down 2-0 in the series to the Celtics, this felt like a must-win game for the Raptors to save their season.
All that matters about this game is the final 21.5 seconds so let’s fast forward.
Fred VanVleet drives to the rim and ties the game for the Raptors, but there’s still time on the clock. This leaves the door open for the Boston Celtics to take a 3-0 series lead.
Kemba Walker takes the ball and draws the attention of the Marc Gasol.
This leaves Daniel Theis wide open under the rim and he slams it in to give Boston a two-point lead with 0.5 seconds remaining.
The Raptors call a timeout to draw up a play while looking at 3-0 right in the face.
Kyle Lowry gets ready to inbound the ball with Tacko Fall and all of his 7’5″ frame in front of him.
After some looking, Lowry spots OG Anunoby open in the corner, and delivers the perfect pass to Anunoby who releases the shot on time and drains the triple to win the game.
Anunoby, after making the biggest shot of his life, just nonchalantly walks away as his teammates embrace him.
After the game, Anunoby was asked about his lack of excitement after draining the winning shot. His response? Only the coldest answer any NBA player has ever given in a press conference: “Because when I shot it, I expected to make it. I don’t shoot trying to miss.”
This was the moment where Anunoby captured the hearts of Raptors fans.
There it is, the top five Raptors games of 2020 for the Toronto Raptors.
This list was very difficult to make, but these five games stand out the most when thinking of the Raptors in 2020.
It was a rollercoaster year for the Raptors but they provided some long-lasting memories to fans all over Canada, and we can’t wait to see what this list will hold in 2021.