The Toronto Raptors have the best record in the Eastern Conference. Let that sink in for a moment. While it still might not sound quite right, just go with it, because I double checked. Toronto has taken care of business to start the 2014-15 campaign with a 7-1 record. The Raptors have played hard, hustled and given fans a reason to be excited with their SportsCenter Top 10-worthy plays night after night. Although their opponents have been subpar (they’ve beaten Atlanta, a crippled OKC team, Boston, Philly and Orlando twice), you should be excited about the Raptors, too. Why? Because when it comes time, Toronto will take care of its stiffer competition.
Toronto has mainly faced off against the bottom echelon of the league up to this point. With the exception of one close game in Boston and last night’s matchup with Orlando, they have won easily every time out. Five of their seven wins have come by double digits, which means they’re winning the games they are supposed to. The fact of the matter is the Raptors can’t control who they play, and they still haven’t taken any of these weak opponents lightly. These wins are only bringing Toronto’s confidence higher as it gears up to play Chicago, Memphis, Cleveland and Phoenix in the coming weeks. We can expect those to be closer games, but there’s no reason that the Raptors can’t compete and beat any of those teams or any other elite teams for that matter. They have the depth, star power and added grit and flare.
Drake’s latest No. 1 team can beat you in any number of ways. Toronto has six players averaging double digit scoring, not to mention other steady contributors in Gervis Vasquez, Tyler Hansborugh and Patrick Patterson. The scariest aspect is that it doesn’t seem to matter who the Raptors rotate in. No matter what lineup Toronto has on the court, those players are going to make an impact. Whether it’s Terrence Ross nailing four three-pointers on the same night the bench scores 42 points, DeMar DeRozan coming up with the game-winner in Boston, Lou Williams helping lead the comeback last night along with the rest of the second unit, or James Johnson dunking so hard on the 76ers that it wasn’t suitable for young children (go look at the highlights, it was that nasty), this team is extremely deep. If one guy is having an off night, that simply lends the opportunity for someone else to step up. And you can bet that within this Raptors organization, that opportunity will not be wasted.
When you look north of the border, you find arguably the best backcourt in the league in Kyle Lowry, a rugged, skilled and smart guard, and DeRozan, a much improved jumper. The Raptors have a bench as deep as you’ll find around the association and an air of excitement that’s difficult to match. Shooters everywhere you look, athleticism, toughness, and it all goes into a winning formula. With a year of experience under its belt, there’s no reason this young team can’t be playing serious postseason hoops. This squad is hungry, and with the Atlantic Division in a weak position right now, it’s as a good a time as ever for Toronto to pounce.
Over the years, the Raptors have struggled to find consistency as a franchise. They found some success with the always exciting vintage Vince Carter—gone. Onto minimal success with Chris Bosh at the helm—gone. Then the short lived success of Andrea Bargnani, who’s about as tough as the Charmin mascot—thankfully, gone. Now with a superstar who’s in the middle of a four-year deal, a great supporting cast and fan base who’s bought in, the Raptors may have finally figured things out. There hasn’t been this much hype surrounding something dinosaur-related since the height of the Jurassic Park series. When the brand new Jurassic World comes out this June, don’t be surprised if the Raptors are too busy to make it to the premiere.
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