A lot of discussions are being had about the Toronto Raptors lately and deservingly so. With a 26-10 record and 13-3 in the months of December and January, the Raptors have risen to the number two team in the East. Everywhere I go I hear questions of “Why isn’t anyone talking about the Raptors?” Well, I think I know why.
There are two other teams who are no joke in the Eastern Conference: the Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Boston is atop the East led by Kyrie Irving. He’s been a great fit in the Boston system. In addition, they’ve gotten great production by a few of their young guys which no one saw coming just yet.
On the other hand, while Cleveland has dealt with some struggle, there’s something about LeBron James that refuses me to count him out. Time and time again we find faults in a James led team early on but once the playoffs arrive, he’s proven that you can’t count him out. And let’s not forget, with Isaiah Thomas making his way back, that’s another lethal weapon to add to their arsenal.
Another reason why I can’t put too much stock in the Raptors is that I’ve seen them fold way too many times. In a sense, they’re like the Los Angeles Clippers of the East. It always seems like something goes wrong and when it doesn’t, they just can’t get over the hump.
In the 2015 Playoffs, they were swept by the number five ranked Washington Wizards in the first round who they beat three times in the regular season. The next season they made it to their first Eastern Conference Finals to face the Cavaliers. However, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry folded in Game five and the Raptors didn’t have enough to take Game 6 which ended up in Toronto going fishing. Fast forward to 2017, Lowry gets hurt in Game two and Cleveland sweeps them in the Conference Semifinals.
You’re probably thinking well it’s a new year new team and you can’t hold their past against them. Okay, cool but I’m still not buying this team just yet. When you look deeper into their last stretch of games, they don’t have many quality wins. Toronto’s two best wins are against the Milwaukee Bucks and the Indiana Pacers. They have a 7-7 record against teams with a record of .500 or better which is pretty alarming to me. To be the best you have to beat the best and we haven’t seen that from them just yet.
Number four ranked offense, number six ranked defense and DeRozan dropping 5o plus on any given night looks dandy. However, I’m not sold on Toronto just yet. When Boston is playing as solid as they are and Cleveland is progressively getting better, I can’t put too much stock in the Raptors coming out of the East.