Toronto Raptors clinch playoff berth with narrow victory over Celtics

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sport

On the back of DeMar DeRozan's 30 points and Amir Johnson's game-winning putback layup, the Raptors will return to the playoffs.

After about half a decade of mediocrity, the Toronto Raptors have clinched their first playoff spot since 2008.

Despite getting a tough fight from one of the East's worse teams in the Celtics, Toronto took care of business at home, 105-103, and they won pizza for their fans to boot.

It was a bit of a rough game at times; Kyle Lowry had to excuse himself for a little bit after a minor injury and had trouble scoring after he came back, though he scored a couple big buckets late. DeMar DeRozan and Amir Johnson also played huge roles in getting the win, each with impressive shots to keep the Raptors ahead in the final possessions.

Although the Raptors had fine games from their bench, their defense struggled to stop Boston's own bench players. The Celtics' bench outscored Toronto's, 49-28.

DeRozan's late step-back jump shot reclaimed the momentum for Toronto, but the key play was Johnson's putback layup following a Kyle Lowry missed layup. The Celtics couldn't get a quality look at the buzzer, and Jared Sullinger's double-teamed three-pointer bricked.

Though Toronto fans were assuredly thrilled with Johnson, whose shot gave them the playoff-clinching win (and pizza), perhaps he was most thrilled by the pride his grandmother had in him.

The Raptors making the playoffs comes after a rough handful of years during which the team lost star power forward Chris Bosh and struggled to develop around Andrea Bargnani and DeRozan.

As patience waned, Bryan Colangelo fell out of favor and eventually stepped down, giving way to young star GM Masai Ujiri. Ujiri quickly went to work, ridding the team of the hefty contracts of Rudy Gay and Bargnani. The Raptors commandeered the struggling Atlantic Division behind a roster led by DeRozan, Lowry, Johnson and a stronger defense.

Despite initial concerns of tanking, as many people had thought would be the case with many teams, the Raptors have instilled their fanbase with excitement on the back of strong play.

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