We The North: Raptors head to the playoffs
OpinionSports Apr 9, 2018 Gregory Philion
With their win against the Orlando Magic, the Toronto Raptors are now 58-22, which is the team’s best record. The best part is that the Raptors have a chance to push that up to 60 wins with their next two games being against the struggling Detroit Pistons, and then the Miami Heats. As a fan of the Raptors, it feels fantastic not only to be winning but to be winning convincingly.
To top it off, the Toronto Raptors now own the number one seed in the eastern conference and is the second-best team in the NBA. To those who don’t understand just how impressive that is, you should know that at the beginning of the season, the Raptors were projected to be the number six seed in the east. So, to see the Raptors succeed against all the odds is the most satisfying thing as Canadian basketball fans watching an American league.
Going into the playoffs, there is a narrative following the Raptors, and that is that the Raptors “Shrink in the playoffs” which is a silly narrative. I mean, the Raptors got bounced out the playoffs by a LeBron James lead team. Losing to LeBron who has gone to seven straight NBA finals is nothing to be ashamed about. But like every Raptors fan you’ve heard from this year, I am here to tell you that Toronto is a different team this year. Why do you ask?
Well first let’s begin with the obvious. The bench mob. In case you missed it, the Toronto Raptors has the best bench. As a unit, they have the best net rating in the NBA at +22.2. Net rating is the differential per every 100 possessions and is at a 51.4 efficiency. The bench mob is any player on the bench who can be called upon at any point in the game, but most notably Fred VanVleet, Delon Wright, C.J. Miles, Pascal Siakam and Jakob Poeltl. As a unit, the Bench Mob averages 40 points per game, even going as far as to scoring 40-60 points multiple times this season, all while playing around 21 minutes together. They are practically a starting unit.
What else can the doubters throw at us? For starters, Demar DeRozan is too scared of LeBron, and Kyle Lowry always disappear in the playoffs? Although that is semi-true, we have to understand that we are talking about years where the Raptors were heavily dependent on Lowry and DeRozan. A team where Toronto was near the bottom in assists per game, compared to now where they are top five. We are not worried about Raptors falling short in the last five minutes of the game, because the game would be already over by then. We will see blowout wins. Okay maybe I am going over my head on this one, but based off what we’ve seen in the regular season, The Toronto Raptors have been blowing teams out left, right and centre and resting their stars in the fourth quarter because well… they don’t need them.
An injury is never a good thing, Matter of fact; I am a firm believer that if you are going to beat a team, do it at full strength. With that being said, injuries are a huge part to why the Raptors have a chance of making it to the finals this year. The second place Boston Celtics who have been one of the more annoying thorns in the side of the Raptors are down five players, most notably the stars Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, and Marcus Smart. Cleveland Cavaliers being down George Hill and Jose Calderon. Those two being the most significant threats to the Raptors are not 100 percent could help Toronto make it out of the Eastern Conference.
We may be drunk off maple syrup but believe me when I say We The North is making it to the finals.