Raptors win playoff berth with win over Hawks

TORONTO — Pascal Siakam had 31 points and 13 rebounds and the Toronto Raptors secured a playoff spot Tuesday with a 118-108 win over the Atlanta Hawks.

Scottie Barnes added 19 points and 14 rebounds while Chris Boucher added 18 points and Gary Trent Jr. finished with 14 for the Raptors (46-33) in their 12th win in 15 games.

Fred VanVleet had 12 points while Precious Achiuwa had 11.

With their win and the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 120-115 loss in Orlando, the Raptors can’t finish worse than sixth in the East.

Trae Young had 26 points to lead the Hawks (41-38), who saw their five-game winning streak come to an end.

The Raptors will host playoff games at Scotiabank Arena for the first time since the thrilling run of the 2019 NBA Championship.

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The 2020 season ended in the Disneyworld bubble due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Raptors were relegated to Tampa, Florida for the following season due to Canada-US border restrictions and health and safety regulations in Ontario. They didn’t make the 2021 playoffs anyway and toppled the Eastern Conference in March amid a COVID-19 outbreak, finishing in 12th place.

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Neither team dominated the first three quarters of the seesaw battle. After a brief seven-point lead in the first half, Boucher’s three-pointer at 2:28 in the third half gave the Raptors a nine-point cushion, their widest lead to that point. They went into round four with an 89-83 advantage.

Boucher connected with back-to-back threes to start the fourth quarter with a 10-point lead — the first time both teams were double digits ahead. But the Raptors went cold as ice. Young followed his three-pointer with a layup to cap a 10-0 run by the Hawks that ended the game at 102-102, 4-29.

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Barnes hit a putback, and VanVleet hit from long range – only his second three in a terrible 2-on-12 three-point shooting night – and Toronto was back with 1:03 to play by five, bringing the sell-out crowd from 19,800 at his feet. Barnes put it in with 22 seconds left and ran back across the court with a hand raised in victory.

Bogdan Bogdanovic lost a three-pointer, but it was too little too late for the Hawks, relegated to the play-in tournament with the loss.

The Raptors were missing starter OG Anunoby for the second straight game with a thigh contusion.

“Much better but still pretty sore,” said Raptors coach Nick Nurse.

The Raptors had a 114-109 loss to Kyle Lowry and the Miami Heat, who ended their five-game winning streak.

Neither team led by more than seven points in the first half. Toronto briefly led by five in the first quarter, but Young’s jumper capped an 11-0 run by the Hawks to give Atlanta a six-lead. The Hawks led 31-27 to start the second.

Achiuwa drove to the hoop for a huge dunk that took the Raptors players off the bench and improved them by six points. Siakam’s stepback shot 9.7 seconds clear at halftime sent Toronto with a 56-52 lead at the break.

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The Raptors host the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday in what could be a playoff preview and then Houston on Friday. They end the regular season on Sunday against the Knicks in New York.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on April 5, 2022.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

https://globalnews.ca/news/8738625/raptors-clinch-playoff-spot-with-win-over-hawks/ Raptors win playoff berth with win over Hawks

Nate Jones

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