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Amir Johnson Game-Winner Clinches Raptors' 1st Playoff Berth Since 2008

Toronto Raptors forward Amir Johnson (15) looks to pass against the defense of Boston Celtics center Jared Sullinger in the second half of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, March 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Elise Amendola
John DornCorrespondent IIIDecember 21, 2016

The Toronto Raptors took down the Boston Celtics Friday night thanks to a timely Amir Johnson tip-in with just seven seconds left. Though fairly exciting in itself, there probably wouldn't be an article dedicated to the victory if it didn't contribute to the bigger picture. 

For Toronto, it certainly did. 

The win clinched the Raps' first postseason berth in five years. In a down year for the East, Toronto is currently slated as the No. 3 seed. 

Johnson's tip-in solidified the 105-103 win over Boston, and it moved the Raptors to 41-31 on the season. He finished with eight points and eight rebounds, while DeMar DeRozan scored 30, albeit on 27 shots. 

As you can see and hear below, the Toronto faithful was surely aware of what was at stake.

The last Raptors unit to appear in the postseason was the 2007-08, Chris Bosh- and Jose Calderon-led Toronto squad. Coached by Sam Mitchell, they were ousted in the first round after five games by the Orlando Magic.

Johnson, keeping in line with the Raptors' Drake motif from this season, celebrated accordingly.

With the Atlantic Division title within reach, this year's team has a chance to win a postseason series for the first time since 2001. Likely first-round matchups include the Washington Wizards, Brooklyn Nets and Chicago Bulls.

Toronto head coach Dwane Casey knows it's been a journey to get to this point. After trading Rudy Gay early in the season, some fans viewed this season effectively over before the halfway point. 

J.E. Skeets, co-host of NBA TV's The Starters and formerly of the podcast The Basketball Jones, felt a certain sense of responsibility for the Raps' sudden emergence.

In what was intended to be a rebuilding year, they've been led by career seasons from DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. Nixing Andrea Bargnani from the picture certainly didn't hurt, either.

On March 28, it's set in stone: Toronto is playoff bound. And in this year's East, a series victory could even be in the cards, too.

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