1. The Raptors win 54 games, earn the No. 3 seed in the East
The Raptors are going to be a playoff contender this year, but very few prognosticators have predicted them taking down one of the top four seeds in the Eastern Conference. However, Toronto might not be that far away from taking such a leap. Many of the teams above them have serious holes in the infrastructure.
The Heat are an aging team that will lean on greybeards Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry. The Bucks must spend a big chunk of time without the services of No. 2 scorer Khris Middleton. The Celtics lost Ime Udoka due to suspension, and Toronto showed they can go toe-to-toe with the 76ers. The revamped Nets are a complete question mark.
The Toronto Raptors could be a real force in the East.
Toronto has a unique blend of proven championship experience in their starting lineup with enough youth to keep thinks fresh. Pair that with a diabolical head coach in Nurse that can flash his championship ring in opponents’ faces, and you have a recipe for instant success.
Toronto will need to show that they can avoid the offensive cold spells that plagued this team while replicating their success from last year against some of the league’s best squads. If they can do this, home-court advantage in a first-round playoff series could come to fruition.