The Toronto Raptors are in a very unique position. Despite their best efforts to fall down the Eastern Conference standings, the team above them is doing actively worse. Just two games behind the Chicago Bulls in the loss column, the Raptors cannot afford to make it up to the 10th seed if they wish to earn a favourable draft pick. Unfortunately, the Chicago Bulls are losing at a much more impressive rate. 

Recognizing this, the Toronto Raptors have decided to rest some of their star players. In tonight’s matchup versus the recently depleted Orlando Magic (+215), the Raptors will be without Pascal Siakam, Kyle Lowry, and OG Anunoby. Toronto will also be missing Trent Jr. and Bembry who are both out with injury. Expect a mismatch starting lineup of Fred Vanvleet, Malachi Flynn, Chris Boucher, Khem Birch, and Yuta Watanabe.

Despite the Toronto Raptors desire to fall in the standings, that is not the DNA of this team. Even two years and half-a-roster removed from the 2019 Championship season, the Toronto Raptor continue to play as hard as they can. Even without the majority of the starters, Toronto’s bench showed up against a depleted Orlando Magic team.

Paul Watson Jr. shattered his NBA career-high by dropping 30-points on 10/13 from the field and 8/11 form three-point territory. Watson was not the only Raptors bench player to drop an elite performance tonight. Yuta Watanabe, one of the shining additions to this year’s Raptors roster, finished the game with a 21/6/2. He too set a new career-high in points and shot over 60% from the floor. Even Flynn, who didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, left the contest with 8 assists.

So, what does this mean? It means the Toronto Raptors are now in 10th place in the Eastern Conference and might be in contention for a play-in spot.

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