Raptors clinch playoff berth after defeating Warriors

Arun Srinivasan

The Toronto Raptors reached another key milestone against the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night.

It’s not nearly as important as winning the 2019 NBA Finals, but the Raptors clinched their seventh consecutive playoff berth with a 121-113 win over the Warriors.

Norman Powell submitted one of the best games of his career, recording a career-high 37 points, with a 23-point explosion in the first half. Powell added three rebounds, three steals and was a calming presence for the Raptors as the Warriors never made the game comfortable.

You wouldn’t be at fault for thinking it was a rerun of Game 6 of the 2019 Finals as Kyle Lowry came out of the gate on fire once again, setting the tone for the Raptors with 10 points and five assists in the first quarter. Lowry finished with 26 points, 10 assists and five rebounds — two rebounds shy of his exact statline from Game 6, which can now be considered among the great games by a guard in recent Finals history.

It wasn’t an ordinary regular season game for a few reasons, with the undertone of last year’s Finals reverberating before the game tipped off. Steph Curry also returned for the Warriors after a 58-game absence due to a broken hand sustained in October. Curry finished with 23 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in 26 minutes.

Norman Powell submitted one of the games of his career, helping the Toronto Raptors clinch a playoff spot with a win over the Golden State Warriors. (Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports)

In fairness to the Warriors, they submitted a valiant effort, competing with the Raptors every step of the way. Curry aside, this isn’t close to the juggernaut that took the league by storm for the past half-decade or so, as Kevin Durant left in free agency, while Klay Thompson did not play a single game this year due to a torn ACL suffered during the Finals.

Draymond Green was also out of the lineup Thursday.

Not so long ago, the playoffs weren’t taken for granted but it’s a testament to this era of Raptors basketball that a playoff berth being clinched in early March can go unnoticed while the city rests easy.

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