The Toronto Raptors have made history by making it to their first Eastern Conference Finals in franchise history. It’s clearly a watershed moment for Canada’s only NBA franchise, as they have existed for years in the “good, but not good enough” category. Multiple first round playoff exits threatened to become a shadow that the current roster of players and coaches might never escape from. There was a lot of talk in Toronto sports media that owners MLSE would have to blow up the team if they failed again this season — which they almost did, squeaking out seven game series wins over both the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat, neither of which looked convincing.
Many Raptor fans will now consider the season a success, since all the experts are predicting that a well-rested Cleveland Cavaliers are primed to trounce the worn-down Dinos. Hell, most people aren’t even being generous enough to predict the Raps will get a single win in the Conference Finals. But only three teams won more games this season than Toronto (Golden State, San Antonio, and Clevelend), and they finished just a single game behind the Cavs for first place in the East. Toronto may have struggled at times so far, but a new series gives them a fresh start at a opponent that isn’t as much of a mismatch as some people think.
We’re going to start with the obvious, low hanging fruit. The Raptors won the season series against the Cavs, scoring two close victories at the Air Canada Center but dropping their only visit to the Quicken Loans Arena. While three games in the regular season doesn’t mean that the playoffs will follow suit, there is at least a decent chance that the Raptors can hold serve on their home court. Even if they can’t steal a win on the road, pushing the Cavs to seven games would be an achievement. And anything can happen in a Game 7, should the Raptors get there.