NBA Insider believes Raptors could make conference Finals run

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 26: OG Anunoby #3 and Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - MARCH 26: OG Anunoby #3 and Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors have been accustomed to their status as perpetual underdogs. Not only are teams that could compete rarely given the time of day by the larger NBA media, but teams that are regarded as being deficient in one or two key areas are immediately cast into the lottery without a second thought.

That lack of belief helped the Raptors stand out as arguably the most surprising team in the entire conference. 48 wins and the No. 5 seed was shocking to most of the NBA world, but the Raptors knew how talented they were coming into the year. Replicating that could prove to be more challenging.

Assuming that all of the top four seeds in the Eastern Conference end up being as good as they were, the new-look Cavaliers and allegedly healthy Nets will make sure they are respected in the conference. With the Hawks having traded for Dejounte Murray as well, the Raptors have their work cut out for them.

That hasn’t stopped Zach Harper of The Athletic from declaring the Raptors as one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, even going so far as to declare them a potential threat to make a run all the way to the conference finals.

Harper cited the fact that Toronto can bother star post players and win games without great size as his primary justification.

Will the Toronto Raptors make the Eastern Conference Finals?

The Raptors have the benefit of cohesion on their side this season, as the Raptors brought back their entire rotation following the re-signings of Thad Young and Chris Boucher. The bench is going to be better, but it’s Toronto’s starting lineup diversity that will set them apart.

The Raptors were the only team in the league last season who had all five of their starters score at least 15 points per game. Being able to attack tanking teams and standout competitors with the same degree of fervor is going to be quite the luxury for this squad.

Toronto can go into any game with the luxury of being able to lean on an All-Star point guard, Rookie of the Year wing, and All-NBA center. Nick Nurse’s championship experience and success against some of the best teams in the league will come in handy in this crowded conference.

The Raptors are guaranteed next to nothing now that their conference has become even more daunting, but Harper is one of many who thinks that Toronto’s formula for success is going to help them beat out most of the teams in that same tier.

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