The Toronto Raptors are among a very short list of elite teams in the east, and are garnering heavy consideration as one of the teams projected to advanced to the Eastern Conference finals. They have a deep roster headlined by Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Jonas Valanciunas, and DeMarre Carroll, however, there are several teams that plan to spoil their hopes of postseason success. Which teams, if any, can out-claw the Toronto Raptors?
Are the Raptors Eastern Conference Finals Bound? Who can stop them?
Kyle Curry – I think the two teams that stand in the way of the Toronto Raptors are the Cavaliers and the Hawks. The Cavs are the perennial powerhouse of the East and the Hawks are just as talented. The Raptors have spurts where I think they could get to the Finals in a couple of years but this year is not the year. If they could find a more stable big man for the five slot and a decent three-point shooter at the three, I think they would be able to get to the Finals in around three or four years.
Jr. Williams – If the playoffs were to begin today with the Raptors ranked No.2 in the east, they would be set to match-up against the Charlotte Bobcats — a team that could quite possibly push the Raptors beyond a 5-game series. Nicolas Batum and Kemba Walker will be the players to watch out for, as they’re just as offensively talented as DeRozan and Lowry, however, I expect the Raptors bench to come alive and provide enough depth to lift this team beyond their past first round disappointment.
The Raptors’ road to the conference finals will become even more complex as I would predict them to be set on a crash course to battle it out with Beantown’s finest (Boston Celtics) featuring Isaiah Thomas and a well-balanced group of glue-guys that won’t go down without a fight. You better believe that this playoffs series will stretch to the final and decisive game seven. Still, I highly expect the Raptors to advance to the Eastern Conference finals to face the team many predict will be the Cleveland Cavaliers. Will the Raptors survive beyond the 2016 Eastern Conference finals? That’s an entirely different story.
Ben Buchanan – The Toronto Raptors have been tremendous so far this season. They’ve been playing great basketball, posting top 10 scores in both offensive and defensive efficiency, this is in large thanks to the amazing play of both All-stars Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. The Raptors have made it very clear that they are legitimate, with big statement games against teams like the Cavs, Thunder, Clippers and Warriors (two close losses). The real question though is have they built a team that will be able to match up with the Cavilers in a seven game series.
The Raptors definitely have some pieces to compete, but I find it hard to envision a scenario in which they can pick up four wins against the Cavailers. It really boils down to defense, when DeMarre Carroll comes back will be able to slow LeBron? Will Lowry be able to shut down Kyrie? Can Jonas Valančiūnas lock down the paint? These are the things that would likely decide the series, so it is definitely possible, but if I had to make a definitive decision right now, I’d say I think that the Cavilers have too much ammunition for the Raptors in a seven game series.