Raptors return from break showing why they will contend in East

Written By Sam Ficarro
(Getty Images)

The Toronto Raptors entered the second half of the NBA season in second place in the Eastern Conference behind the Milwaukee Bucks. Their first game was Friday night when they hosted the Phoenix Suns.

Toronto won handily 118-101 behind a 37-point, 12-rebound performance from All-Star forward Pascal Siakam. The game's main storylines, however, were the Raptors' displays of depth and length.

Seven players scored in double figures. Fellow All-Star Kyle Lowry posted a double-double (13 points, 10 assists) while OG Anunoby, Serge Ibaka, Fred VanVleet, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Terrence Davis also had double-digit points.

It's unrealistic to expect this kind of output from the Raptors' supporting cast on a nightly basis, but it shows the kind of problems the rotation can pose in the NBA playoffs.

Another thing that makes Toronto a contender in the East is its size on the wings. The Raptors disrupted a lot of the Suns' perimeter shots Friday, totaling 13 blocks. They did this even though center Marc Gasol was out with a hamstring injury.

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The wingspan of Toronto's forwards will come into play if they have to take on the Bucks, 76ers and Celtics in the postseason.

The 6-7 Anunoby is arguably the Raptors' best perimeter defender, and having him healthy has been a big plus. He led the team with four blocks Friday.

The Bucks are the talk of the East, and rightfully so, with their 47-8 record, but the Raptors are quietly taking care of business and looming as one of Milwaukee's biggest threats. 

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