Toronto Raptors Roundtable: Biggest surprise, realistic goals, and more

Toronto Raptors - Pascal Siakam (Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Pascal Siakam (Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Pascal Siakam and Marc Gasol (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

What are realistic goals for this season? Have they changed?

Mike Bossetti:

Coming into the season, I expected the Raptors to fight for homecourt advantage. I put their realistic ceiling at the three-seed and their floor at the seven-seed. 20 games into the year, their spot in the standings might not have changed much, but that has more to do with the outstanding play of the top of the East than anything else. Toronto should fight for the two-seed, although with four teams fighting for the spot, the odds are still against them. Their floor is no lower than the six-seed, with a clear line of demarcation after the banged-up Indiana Pacers.

But where the team’s chances have really shifted is in the playoffs. Toronto looks as good as anyone other than the Milwaukee Bucks. The goal should be to play the Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals and see what happens. Milwaukee is the better team, but the best team doesn’t always win the series.

Nikola Cuvalo:

Have they changed? Oh, big time. From 6-seed predictions to 2-seed dreams, expectations have shifted quite a bit for this (somewhat) surprising, high-achieving Raptors squad. It’s clear the championship DNA is still there, they should be able to ride that to a successful ~54(ish) win regular season.

In terms of the playoffs, a second-round exit always seemed to be the most likely outcome, and I’m not sure that’s changed. I do think, with the emergence of Siakam and obvious 3-and-D depth on the roster, there is a real shot of sneaking into the Eastern Conference Finals (against either the Bucks or Sixers). Meeting the Heat or Celtics (or healthy Pacers) in a second-round series screams “seven games”.

Michael Walton:

My realistic goals for this team have changed in a big way between preseason and now. Coming into the season I was quite worried about the wear-and-tear on veteran leader Kyle Lowry (and Marc Gasol/Serge Ibaka), OG Anunoby’s ability to further develop his game, and of course, Pascal Siakam’s ability to step up in the absence of 2019 NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard. Turns out I shouldn’t have worried too much about any of those potential pitfalls for Nick Nurse’s resilient squad.

With this team firing on all cylinders regardless of who is in the lineup, they appear to be legit threats to the Bucks’ juggernaut in the East. My original preseason projection was the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference and an Eastern Conference Semifinals appearance, but as of now, I fully expect this team to make the Eastern Conference Finals. To go any further, I believe the Raptors will need some ‘Masai magic’, adding one more significant piece to an already great core.

Geethan Viswathasan:

There are a handful of contenders in the East to make the Finals, and the Raptors are one of them. They’ve been masterful at shutting down the best players in the league, and the playoff experience from last year seems to have stuck.

A regular season target of a 50+ win season is realistic, with a post-season conference finals appearance a very real possibility.