We continue our 2015 NBA playoffs series outlook with the Toronto Raptors, a team currently struggling to play consistent basketball on the road but has dominated their division with an impressive 11-2 record. The Raptors are destined to win their second consecutive Atlantic Division title en route to clinching a playoffs spot, but there are questions as to whether this team is good enough to make a serious postseason run.
Below the surface this team has shown defensive deficiencies and a lack of consistent leadership which could be exploited come playoffs time. Can Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan step up and lead their team beyond the first round?
– Team S.U. debates.
Keith Rivas (Sports Unbiased Writer) – From what they’ve showed us the past couple of seasons, there’s no doubt in my mind that the x-factor for the Toronto Raptors is Kyle Lowry. Having his stage set in the much weaker Eastern Conference, Lowry has the consistent chance to prove himself in the post season.
But so far, it’s been no cigar.
The Raptors fell short to the Brooklyn Nets in last year’s playoffs and it was in a seven game series that collapsed right before their eyes with the nail in the coffin being a one-point loss in a win-or-stay-home battle.
But they’re better than that.
Toronto is a team that can beat any other franchise in professional basketball when Kyle Lowry brings his A-Game. Putting up All-Star numbers in a breakout with the now-Drake owned Canadian team, Lowry must perform well on the court and keep his teammates composed and ready for battle otherwise, as they know all too well, even good things can come to an end quickly.
But not this year.
Steve Turner (NBA Contributor) – The Toronto Raptors have been having a really great season. Lately though, this team has been looking rough and I don’t think they’ll be that much of a threat in the playoffs. Toronto is currently in and out of the 4th seed in the east trailing Chicago. If the standing remained the same, Toronto would play the Washington Wizards in the 1st round. I believe this Wizards team could give Toronto a run for their money.
If the Raptors want a successful playoff run, I think that team is going to need DeMar DeRozan to step up. DeRozan has proved he’s an explosive player and he’s one of the best shooting guards in the league. He’s currently averaging 19.3 points per game and shooting 40.5 percent from the field. The Toronto Raptors could have a great playoff run only if DeRozan takes on the challenge and shines in the moment.
Sauping R. Arguello (NBA Contributor) – The Toronto Raptors have reached a hard patch towards the end of the season. Kyle Lowry has not been playing at an All-Star caliber level recently, and he needs to get back to his pre All-Star form come playoff time. I think the Raptors will benefit from home court advantage but match-ups will play a huge factor on their success. They are currently the between the third and fourth seed and will play the Wizards if the playoffs were to start tonight but could end up playing Milwaukee. The Bucks are holding on to the sixth seed having lost their last six games. I see Toronto getting past the Bucks and advancing to the second round but only to lose to the Cleveland Cavaliers. I wouldn’t say it’s impossible for them to upset the Cavs but it’s highly unlikely.
Who will be the X-factor for the Raptors?
It’s a toss up between Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. They are both a vital component to their (Raptors) success. They must be running on all cylinders in order to get far. Lowry and DeRozan have proven they can be the go to guy in clutch situations but the consistency is the question. Can they get it done on a nightly basis versus harder competition? That has yet to be determined. Lou Williams must provide a scoring punch off the bench and be ready in case Lowry or DeRozan struggle offensively or get into foul trouble.
Bobby Bourhis (NBA Contributor) – The Toronto Raptors are one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan make up one of the best two-way backcourts in the NBA. Additionally, their bench unit consisting of Lou Williams and Greivis Vasquez is highly productive. Still, with Cleveland playing great and Atlanta holding down the number one seed, it is hard to imagine any other team making the Eastern Conference Finals.
The key to a deep run in the playoffs for the Raptors might be the big man in the middle. Jonas Valanciunas has had a fairly inconsistent year, although he has shined bright at times. If he can put together a strong series, and establish his offense in the paint, then it gives this team a go to scorer down low which will balance nicely with their guards.