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The Toronto Raptors must be the NBA’s most annoying team.

To them, it’s a badge of honor. It’s a compliment about their style of play. No, they’re not the most talented team in the league, but, boy, are they going to frustrate opponents every single night.

“There was a joke going around All-Star weekend when I was there that some of the guys took a vote (and) we were their least favorite team to play against,” Raptors guard Fred VanVleet told TSN’s Overdrive. “We won that vote with some of the best guys in the league.”

The problem with the Raptors is their size. As Trae Young joked Tuesday night, “it's hard to really grow overnight.” Toronto may not have a 7-footer that’s going to lock down the paint like Joel Embiid or the handful of other supersized bigs, but what they lack in frontcourt size they make up for everywhere else.

Take the six-minute stretch in the second quarter of Tuesday’s victory over the Atlanta Hawks for example. When VanVleet subbed out of Gary Trent Jr., Toronto rolled out a lineup with four players between 6-foot-8 and 6-foot-9 and handed the point guard responsibilities over the Pascal Siakam.

It befuddled the Hawks who saw a 32-27 lead turn into a 49-42 deficit.

“We have a couple of those guys in our league, Giannis, guys like that, LeBron, you know, these guys are point forwards and you’ve got to put size on them because they will take advantage of that in that matchup,” said Hawks coach Nate McMillan.

Atlanta simply had no answers for Toronto’s length. That lineup alone grabbed six offensive boards in six minutes and the Raptors as a team outrebounded the Hawks 20 to 10 on the offensive glass.

“I’m telling you, they're a long team,” said the 6-foot-1 Young. “When they're attacking the glass and they’re being physical and the refs are allowing their physicality and they’re going over backs, stuff like that, it's gonna be hard to really get some rebounds over them.”

“I mean our first-shot defense wasn’t horrible. (Siakam) was definitely getting into the paint. He would miss in there, they would clean it up, and finish at the rim and those were baskets we weren't necessarily getting this game and credit to them,” Kevin Huerter added.

On the defensive end, there are no weaknesses when Toronto goes big. Teams can’t pick on smaller guards or isolate on some slow-footed big that’s been dragged out to the perimeter a little too far. Instead, all that length just eats up space, clogs up passing lanes, and makes life miserable for opposing offenses.

“They’re very strong, very scrappy. I mean, that's what makes them good,” Young said. “If you look at their squad, they're not necessarily the most talented team but they play really hard. They played together and they’ve got a lot of guys that are really just good at everything, not necessarily good at one thing but a lot of guys that are really good at a lot of things.”

These days, the Raptors are playing like a true team. They've taken major steps forward on the defensive end and they've become a group that's playing much better than the sum of its parts.

The league has noticed and it's well aware that Toronto is a team nobody wants to face.

Further Reading

Nick Nurse & Fred VanVleet discuss how far the Raptors have come defensively on their trek toward another championship

Raptors punch playoff tickets by sticking to their identity in victory over Hawks

Playoff Probabilities: Where the Raptors stand and what's most likely to happen