Potential Playoffs: Raptors should expect fun, exciting series against Grizzlies
The Memphis Grizzlies don't know what they don't know and if anything should scare Toronto Raptors fans it's exactly that.
With the NBA reportedly coming back this summer with a reshaped playoffs, Raptors fans have begun zeroing in on the Grizzlies who would likely be Toronto's first-round matchup if the league adopts a 1 through 16 playoff format.
Off the court, it's a fascinating matchup on multiple levels. The two teams came into the league in 1995, forming Canada's first two NBA teams in Toronto and Vancouver. The Grizzlies also have two of the NBA's most exciting young Canadian players in Dillion Brooks and Brandon Clarke, and are led by former Raptor Jonas Valanciunas. For Grizzlies fans, Toronto has former Memphis franchise icon Marc Gasol along with Kyle Lowry, who started his career with the Grizzlies before an unhappy breakup in 2009.
On the court, the Raptors certainly have the edge. Toronto ranks 12th in the NBA in offensive rating with 111.3 points per 100 possessions and second in the league in defensive rating, allowing just 104.9 points per 100 possessions. Conversely, the Grizzlies are 20th in offensive rating (108.9) and 15th in defensive rating (109.9).
Strategically, Memphis likes to get out in transition and run, it does it the fifth most in the NBA averaging 1.12 points per possession and it's seventh in the NBA in pace of play, per NBA stats. The problem for the Grizzlies will be Toronto's stingy transition defense that ranks atop the league, allowing just 1.04 points per possession in transition.
The one potential issue for Toronto — and really every NBA team for that matter — is how the virus and this extended hiatus will affect returning players. The Grizzlies have a young core led by Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. who should have no trouble getting back into game shape quickly with their fresh, young legs. For them, this unorthodox playoffs won't be too different because they've never experienced a playoffs before. Toronto, on the other hand, has a mix of young and old players including the 34-year-old Lowry and 35-year-old Gasol, for whom this break could be problematic as they try to return to game shape.
If Toronto everything goes as planned and both teams can return game-ready, the Raptors should have no problem dispelling the Grizzlies.