How many wins can the Raptors tally in their final 20 games?
Imman Adan and Chris Walder discuss Toronto's final 20 games, how many win they would need to avoid the play-in tournament and more. Listen to the full episode on the 'Raptors Over Everything' podcast feed.
CHRIS WALDER: I think at this point, tanking is out of the question. If they were going to do that at any point, they would have done it a lot earlier and just accepted that fact and made some moves to blow up the roster ahead of the trade deadline. That's not the case.
They brought in Poltl. They were buyers instead of sellers. So now, we're running with this roster with the intention and hope that everyone's going to stay healthy and that they can vie and hopefully sneak into the playoffs. But at this point, it's looking more so that they're likely going to end up in the play in.
Single game elimination, you're going up against probably like a Miami Heat, for example, Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls, Washington Wizards, all grouped in there together. So what are the Raptors going to do?
Again, Masai Ujiri has already stated this, that this is a prideful team and they want to go as far as they can go with this roster. If they realize at the end of the season that maybe it's time to make some drastic moves, sure, they'll do that because they'll have the pieces that are expiring, and they can reshape the roster and hopefully go for it again next season.
But as of right now, especially with this upcoming schedule, we got games against the Bulls, we got to coming up against the Wizards. How this season ultimately ends could be determined in the next week.
So again, at the start of the season, maybe we didn't look at a stretch like this as having much significance. But now, with the way the standings are and how tight it is in this Eastern Conference playing race, again, the Raptors are going to have to hold down the fort and pull out some W's to really make some noise.
IMMAN ADAN: I completely agree with that. And when I was looking at their schedule, defensive-- I was really focusing in on what the Raptors really look like defensively. Because to me, I'm like, if they can maintain a good defense-- and they've been a top five defense in the month of February, which yes, is a truncated month and has a break in between.
But if they can be a top 10 defense, if they can be a top five defense, I can see them put on a string of wins to close out the final 20 games of the season because their offense has been top 10, top 11 for most of the year as is, I think, with Fred VanVleet and with the depth that now you have with Jakob Poltl and all these pieces around.
I think the Raptors can truly put on a run, but it just depends on what they look like defensively because we've seen this team just absolutely fall asleep. So I'm not here to be like, Oh, they finally have room protector. They finally have someone on the back line of their defense who can anchor it. They'll be all set and they'll be all good.
Because as we've seen, the Raptors still deploy an incredibly aggressive defense. And if you're lackadaisical in any way, it falls apart. So to me, it's just like do they care? Because you'll see that they care by how they play defensively. And if they're playing up to it, I really do see the same, going on a run in those final 20 games.
As you mentioned, the playoffs seem really, really tough. The Nets are free-falling, but the Nets just have too many bank in wins. And also all of those wins against the Raptors, like Kyrie's game winner right now, all of those game winners against the Raptors are really hurting you if you think that you can catch up with them. I just think that they're too far out. But that seven seed is probably looking good for the Raptors. I would pencil them in somewhere around that seven mark.
CHRIS WALDER: I mean, I posed this question on Twitter earlier as well. I mean, if the Raptors get to a certain--