1 advantage the Toronto Raptors have over every Atlantic rival

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - FEBRUARY 11: Jaylen Brown #7 of the Boston Celtics defends Pascal Siakam #43 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - FEBRUARY 11: Jaylen Brown #7 of the Boston Celtics defends Pascal Siakam #43 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
TAMPA, FLORIDA – JANUARY 04: Malachi Flynn #8 of the Toronto Raptors passes over Aaron Nesmith #26 of the Boston Celtics. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty) /

The Toronto Raptors are not only being doubted by the larger basketball media because of the fact they lost Kyle Lowry in free agency, but also due to their misfortune of being grouped in with some of the best teams in the game in the ultra-competitive Atlantic Division.

The Raptors must contend with two of the championship favorites in the Nets and 76ers, who are once again expected to fight each other for the division crown. The Celtics have a very strong foundation that should get them back to the postseason, and the Knicks are once again a threat.

That doesn’t mean that the Raptors should just curl up in a ball and accept that they are going to finish behind all four of those teams. In fact, the Raptors actually have some quirks on their roster and within their culture that are better than their counterparts in the division. They could exploit these advantages to potentially leapfrog them in the standings.

While the Raptors will be in for some dogfights in games against their Atlantic rivals, but these four factors might be what gives Toronto the edge in some of their head-to-head matchups.

1 edge the Toronto Raptors have over each of their rivals.

Boston Celtics: Backcourt depth

Let’s just go position by position here. At starting point guard, the Raptors have Fred VanVleet coming off of the best offensive season of his career, while the Celtics have Dennis Schroder. While he’s a quality player on a team-friendly deal, he is coming off of a disappointing season in which he disappeared in the postseason.

Marcus Smart vs. Gary Trent Jr. is an interesting comparison given how one is a defensive specialist and one a young gunner. Trent’s scoring with Toronto before his injuries should help the Raptors feel comfortable about how he can deal with Smart, who accentuated his tough defense with a measly 38% shooting clip over the last two years.

The Toronto Raptors have plenty of young guards to throw at the Celtics.

Payton Pritchard and Malachi Flynn should make for an intriguing head-to-head pairing, but considering that Flynn was outperforming Pritchard considerably in April and May, Toronto may have the edge here as well.

Josh Richardson can get a bucket at this level, but some of the advanced numbers (subscription required) show that he was a liability for Dallas at times. Say what you will about Goran Dragic, but he was still an effective player on both ends for Miami last year.

Boston will be a very tough matchup, as the still effective Al Horford in the paint alongside arguably the best young 1-2 punch in the game in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown is quite a headache, but the Raptors might be able to feel reasonably positive about their chances in a head-to-head matchup.