Skip to main content
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track on the Olympic Games
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week for 24 weeks
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track onthe Olympics Games
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse calls a play during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies on May 8, 2021, in Tampa, Fla.

Chris O'Meara/The Associated Press

Two years after their thrilling run to the Larry O’Brien Trophy, this Toronto Raptors season will also go down as one of the most memorable in history – but for all the wrong reasons.

The Raptors were officially eliminated from a spot in the NBA’s post-season play-in tournament on Monday with the Indiana Pacers’ 111-102 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

After a season playing in Tampa, Fla., as the only team playing outside of its market this season, and a COVID-19 outbreak in March that saw them nosedive down the conference standings, the Raptors will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2013.

Story continues below advertisement

With four games left in a bizarre regular season, Raptors coach Nick Nurse preferred not to look back on the numerous challenges tossed at his team and what he learned from how they handled them.

“I’m not sure I’m kind of ready to dig into that quite yet,” he said after Monday’s practice. “My mind is not quite there yet. We’ve talked about it a bunch: What did we learn? Well, things can get really bad and adverse and somehow you’ve got to keep picking yourself up and getting yourself rejuvenated and bringing positivity and keep coaching and all those things.”

Because of Canada’s border restrictions around COVID-19, the Raptors were forced to move to Tampa for the season, playing their “home” games at Amalie Arena, normally home to the NHL’s Lightning.

A far cry from the jam-packed crowds of 20,000 at Scotiabank Arena they’re used to, some nights it’s tough to tell which team the sparse (due to COVID-19 restrictions) crowd is cheering for. Pascal Siakam was booed during late-game free throw attempts last week.

Not overly surprising for a team that had to juggle finding housing in Tampa with games and practices, the Raptors got off to a shaky 2-8 start to the season, but they ended February in the thick of the playoff race at 17-17.

March was a month the Raptors would’ve liked to have ripped off the calendar and tossed.

A COVID-19 outbreak sidelined a good chunk of the Raptors roster, including key players Siakam, Fred VanVleet, and OG Anunoby, plus the majority of coaches. They struggled after their returned to find their form after illness and quarantine measures. And then VanVleet (hip) and Kyle Lowry (toe) suffered injuries that would bother them for weeks.

Story continues below advertisement

Nurse said this final stretch will be partly about evaluating and developing young players.

“There’s a couple of guys we’ll probably give some runs to that we want to see still a little bit more,” he said.

He’s “extremely optimistic” about next season.

“I think we’ve played some of the best teams maybe better than a lot of teams have, to be honest, and we’ve been missing a lot of pieces along here,” Nurse said. “I think we have an incredible group of talented young guys and we’ve got a group that’s growing day by day.”

The Raptors host their former star Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday, then visit Chicago on Thursday and Dallas on Friday before closing the regular season Sunday against visiting Indiana.

Asked if he’ll travel back to Toronto or to his hometown in Carroll, Iowa, after the season, Nurse said he and the Raptors management planned to stay in Tampa.

Story continues below advertisement

“We’re gonna operate still here from Tampa for a while, just with draft prep and exit interviews,” he said. “All that stuff will stay here. I don’t see any movement north for quite some time yet.”

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies