Raptors Become 1st Team to Clinch Playoff Berth with Win vs. Pistons

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMarch 8, 2018

AUBURN HILLS, MI - MARCH 7:  DeMar DeRozan #10 of the Toronto Raptors drives to the basket against the Detroit Pistons on March 7, 2018 at The Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Michigan. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Brian Sevald/NBAE via Getty Images)
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The Toronto Raptors (47-17) have officially become the first Eastern Conference team to clinch a playoff spot.

Toronto locked itself into the postseason Wednesday night with a 121-119 overtime win against the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena behind a game-high 42 points from DeMar DeRozan

However, it was backup floor general Fred VanVleet who drilled the game-winner with 1.1 seconds remaining in the extra session to hand Toronto the win:

The Raptors have made each of the last five postseasons, by far their longest streak in franchise history. The team had only made the playoffs five times in its entire history (dating to 1995-96) before this recent run of success.

Toronto is currently on pace to win its fourth Atlantic Division title in five years and be the East's No. 1 seed for the first time in franchise history. The Boston Celtics trail the Raptors by 2.5 games in both the division and conference, and they're the only team within eight games.

Toronto also has the best point differential in the conference, outscoring its opponents by 8.4 points per 100 possessions, per NBA.com. Only the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets are better in that category.

"The numbers say it," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said when asked whether this is the best team he's coached, per Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post. "Sometimes the most talented teams are not the best teams, but the numbers show it out. I don't think we're a finished product. There's still room for improvement in different areas, in different individuals.

"You could make a case for a lot of teams being the best team, but the numbers say we are there."

The real test for this Raptors team will be in the postseason, which has not been kind to this core. Aside from a 2016 trip to the Eastern Conference Finals, the Raptors are 1-3 in playoff series in the past five years.   

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