Toronto Raptors End NBA's Third-Longest Playoff Drought

Bleacher Report MilestonesB/R StaffMarch 29, 2014

Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry controls the ball as Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley (0) plays pressure defense in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, March 26, 2014. The Raptors won 99-90. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Elise Amendola

With Friday's 105-103 win over the Boston Celtics, the Toronto Raptors clinched their first playoff berth since 2007-08, bringing an end to the NBA's third-longest ongoing playoff drought.

The Raptors' five-year drought was tied with the Washington Wizards', and the 37-35 Wizards are poised to clinch a playoff berth of their own in the coming days. With both squads headed for the postseason, the 26-46 Detroit Pistons will become owners of the league's third-longest drought, having not participated in the playoffs since 2008-09.

The Pistons are stuck in an ugly part of franchise history but still have a ways to go to catch the Minnesota Timberwolves and Sacramento Kings, with the former about to miss the playoffs for a 10th consecutive season and the latter set to miss out for an eighth consecutive year. Upon being officially eliminated, the Pistons will see their own streak move to five seasons, matching what the Wizards and Raptors just did.

The Toronto franchise hasn't found much success since its inception in 1995, but Raptors fans can perhaps take some comfort in knowing that the team's success seems to come in streaks. 

Toronto failed to qualify for the playoffs in each of its first four seasons, before making the cut in three straight years from 1999-00 to 2001-02. The semi-successful period was followed by a run of four consecutive non-playoff seasons, before the Raptors made it back in 2006-07 and 2007-08. 

With the most recent run of futility at an end, the Raptors are in good position to embark on a new streak of playoff appearances.

The Eastern Conference isn't exactly loaded with talent, and the Raptors have one of the league's better starting backcourt duos in Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. With the star guards complemented by developing 21-year-old center Jonas Valanciunas and 23-year-old swingman Terrence Ross, the future looks bright in Toronto, arguably for the first time since Vince Carter's heyday.

Unfortunately, all the positive vibes will hang in the balance this offseason, as Lowry is slated for unrestricted free agency. With no 2014 lottery pick and minimal ability to attract premium free agents, the Raptors could be right back in the lottery next season, should Lowry opt to ply his trade elsewhere.