Here we are back again for the 5th straight season, claiming that the Raptors are just a regular-season team and will be bounced in the 2nd round. Before Kawhi, that was certainly true. Demar and Kyle never had the right mentality and clutchness needed to win playoff series’. However, once they got a true leader who had all the clutch genes anyone in the world can ask for, named Kawhi Leonard, they not only made the finals, but they won it. Now, we are looking at the 3rd leader for the Raptors in the playoffs in the last 5 years, named Pascal Siakam with Kyle lowry right by his side. The question we have to ask ourselves now is can Siakam lead the Raptors to the promised land, or become the next Demar DeRozan for years to come.
This season the Raptors are sitting pretty at the 2nd seed in the east with a 42-15 record after absolutely demolishing the Pacers tonight (the largest blowout win in Raptors history). The Raptors have the 2nd best defensive rating in the league (without Kawhi), and the 4th best net rating. Before the season, people thought the Raptors would be sitting in the 4th 5th or 6th seed by the end of the season, and from the looks of it, many people will be incorrect. Even though they are a great regular season team that is well-known worldwide, the Raptors should actually be feeling good about their chances in the playoffs, and here is why.
The Raptors will most likely lock up the 2nd seed, with them not looking to slow down any time soon. This means they will most likely play the Brooklyn Nets which will be a cakewalk without their 2 superstars by the names of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Next, they would most likely play the Celtics. The one problem with the Raptors is they are a horrible rebounding team, however, the Celtics are not a good rebounding team either. The Celtics are 12th in reb% and the Raptors are 19th in reb%. If the Raptors make it out of the 2nd round, which could be a challenge, they would face the Bucks. The Raptors and Bucks play for the first time on 2/25, and I believe the Raptors will show their true potential. The one problem opposing teams have when guarding Giannis is putting a body on him, Embiid is too big and not agile enough, Butler is too small along with Jaylen Brown, but the Raptors have a guy by the name of Pascal Siakam who is 6’9” and 229 pounds. If you are able to stop Giannis, then the Bucks are in trouble, shown on Christmas day when the Sixers (aka Ben Simmons) were able to stop him and it led to a blowout win by the Sixers. The Bucks team not including Giannis is pretty solid, but it does not compare to the Raptors. Lowry, Vanvleet, and Gasol are better than Bledsoe, Wesley Matthews, and Brook Lopez and the Raptors bench is a lot deeper with Powell, and Davis.
The Raptors team is built so that any guy on the court has the ability to run the team and take control if needed. Whether it is Freddy, Lowry, Siakam, etc. They have a great coach in Nick Nurse who is the front runner for COTY and have a well trusted front office to attract any guys on the waiver wire. The Raptors are going to be a problem in the playoffs for the first time in a while, not including last year, and the Raptors will keep surprising people, just like they have been doing this whole season.
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