It may not be the most successful season for the Toronto Raptors, but at the very least, they still have a shot at making the playoffs via the play-in tournament despite their uneven start to the 2022-23 regular season campaign. But that may necessitate going up against two former franchise icons in the process, as the Raptors will need to win two play-in games just to nab the eighth seed following their 121-102 defeat to the Boston Celtics on Friday night that sealed their place as the ninth best team in the Eastern Conference.
By virtue of being the ninth seed, the Raptors will be facing the franchise’s all-time leader in points, DeMar DeRozan, when they host the Chicago Bulls for the 9/10 game. And as if knocking DeRozan out of the playoff contention won’t be bittersweet enough, they may have to face Kyle Lowry, their longtime franchise floor general, as well, should the Miami Heat have troubles dispatching the Atlanta Hawks in the 7/8 matchup.
Of course, the NBA is a business, and the Raptors will be doing their best to perform to the best of their abilities, the opponent in front of them notwithstanding. Even then, it’ll be difficult for fans to jeer DeRozan and Lowry so much especially after everything they have done for the franchise in the 2010s.
Kyle Lowry, in particular, will always stand as a beloved figure at Scotiabank Arena, especially after he played such an instrumental part in helping the Raptors win their first ever NBA championship in 2019. Who could ever forget the time that Lowry went bonkers to start Game 6 of that series against the Golden State Warriors?
Raptors fans still love DeMar DeRozan as well, even if the team wasn’t particularly able to vanquish the dreaded LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers in three straight postseason runs. The lasting memory of some with DeRozan’s Raptors tenure may be James’ LeBronto takeover in 2018, but DeRozan helped brought the franchise to relevancy and his one last contribution to the franchise was bringing them Kawhi Leonard via trade.
Narratives are what make the NBA such a joy to watch, and the path the Raptors may have to take to make the playoffs is certainly filled with them.