Hidden Keys to Toronto Raptors' Successful Season

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Hidden Keys to Toronto Raptors' Successful Season
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

It began with a trade: The Toronto Raptors shipped their leading scorer and highest-paid player, Rudy Gay, to the Sacramento Kings for overpaid, mostly expiring contracts.

Gay's departure allowed things to fall into place. DeMar DeRozan officially became an All-Star, and Kyle Lowry unofficially did as well. The offense exploded, the defense bunkered down, and the wins piled on top of one another.

Since that pivotal deal (on Dec. 9), the Raptors have had the league's 10th-best offense, eighth-best defense and seventh-best net rating, putting them above the Phoenix Suns and Indiana Pacers in that last category.

Besides Gay's trade, what are some other explanations for Toronto's evolution into a feisty playoff team? Here are five, ranked in order of importance.

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