The Toronto Raptors are the defending champs and the hottest team in the league right now. Every challenge that has been brought forth to them so far has been conquered. Last year they had to win a tough Game 7 at home against the Philadelphia 76ers and Kawhi Leonard’s shot heard around the world carried them through. Giannis Antetokounmpo was in front of them in the Eastern Conference Finals and the eventual regular-season MVP was no match for them.
In the Finals, they had to dethrone the two-time champs in the Golden State Warriors and they were able to do it. This season they lost their best player in Kawhi Leonard and they haven’t lost a beat. Right now they are second in the East and on a 10-game winning streak. The Toronto Raptors look like one of the best teams in the league and will be a nightmare to face in the playoffs.
No NBA Team is Hotter than the Toronto Raptors
The Raptors knew they were a team with the pieces to translate to success even though they lost Kawhi Leonard. The play of Pascal Siakam is one of the greatest stories in the league this year. Siakam is an All-Star starter this year after taking the G League route to the NBA. He translates to how the NBA is played today. Although he is a big man, he has the ability to bring the ball up the court and start the offense, create space with his three-point shooting ability and he has a quick first step that allows him to get to the hole.
He knows how to create easy baskets. He is the Raptors leading scorer and 15th in points per game in the NBA with 23.8 points per contest. This is a breakout year for Siakam and he has been able to lead the Raptors to sustained success this year.
One of the most consistent players year in and year out has been Kyle Lowry. He doesn’t get as much recognition as top point guards like Russell Westbrook and Damian Lillard but what he does for this team is invaluable. He is a tough scrappy guard that doesn’t back down to anybody. The Raptors record ever since he joined the team in the 2012-13 season is 390-233. That is a 62.6 win percentage. Lowry is a born winner.
Counting this season he has been an All-Star for six years in a row. For an undersized point guard out of North Philly, he has quite a rap sheet. Toronto will go as far as he goes. He is the engine that makes this team go.
How Far the Toronto Raptors Can Go this Season
If the Raptors are to go anywhere this season it will take a collective team effort on both sides of the ball as they have done all season. Veterans like Serge Ibaka and Fred VanVleet will be key players to add to the play of Siakam and Lowry. The development of OG Anunoby on the wing will be key also. The 2017 first-round pick is having the best year of his career. Toronto is an all right offensive team as they are 13th in offensive rating. On the other hand, they are a good defensive team.
They are second in defensive rating in the league. They have proven they can defend the best players in the conference like Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid (remember the zero-point game?). This team has just a good a chance as any team to make it to the Finals.
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