Behind the Insider paywall, the very intelligent Tom Haberstroh identified the Toronto Raptors as a “dark horse to make the NBA Finals” in a PER Diem piece on Tuesday.

A brief snippet of his take:

But we need to take the Raptors very seriously. And here’s why: Since trading Rudy Gay, they’ve played as well as Miami and Indiana. Believe it. The Raptors have gone 31-16 (.660) since Gay left the team on Dec. 8 and have outscored opponents by 5.7 points per 100 possessions over that time. That’s right in between the Heat and the Pacers in terms of point differential.

Haberstroh outlines the team’s relative lack of playoff experience and subpar record against elite teams as reasons for skepticism, but points to the team being good on both ends of the floor as a reason for optimism – the Raptors rank fourth in defense and 10th in offense since the Gay deal.

This is all stuff we’ve talked about here before, but Haberstroh serves as a nice confirmation that we’re not just being homers when we convince ourselves more than one playoff round is winnable.

  • http://www.idolizingclowns.com/ IdolizingClowns

    Love this summary, “…serves as a nice confirmation that we’re not just being homers when we convince ourselves more than one playoff round is winnable.”

  • Zimdim

    Nothing at the ACC like a deafening “Let’s go raptors” in the playoffs!

  • michael

    Love it.

  • Reed

    LOL. Not happening. Not even close. Lets see if we can even win a first round series against the likes of Brooklyn or Chicago.

    Having a coach like Casey who uses Novak at the 4, plays Salmons instead of Landry, doesnt use Val beyond the first quarter…etc.

    Playoffs are all about adjustments and matchups both which Casey struggles mightly to do. You can’t expect Lowry hero mode every game cause teams will make adjustments to stop him.

    Also our record is better since the Gay trade also due to the easier schedule. The first 18games where we went 6-12 had us challenging all the top teams even multiple times (Indiana).

    • Brett

      Agree with everything u said until your last paragraph, so Ur telling me that 64 games is easier than 18, and that u can’t actually tell our team passes the eye test and the stats after the gay trade don’t troll. And we can beat Brooklyn maybe not Chicago they play our game but do it better.

      • Zimdim

        Hopefully the off season upgrades of Salmons and/or Vasquez and/or Hayes, plus the development of TR and JV leads this team to the same class as Miami, Indiana and healthy Chicago.

    • Frank

      We still beat teams like OKC, Chicago(2x), Dallas(2x), Golden State, and many other high level teams without Gay.

    • Seeten

      important note about things that really make a difference as to whether you are a contender. Going 31-16 is never a fluke. Having a +5.7 point differential is no fluke, and of their wins, they have 21 wins by over 10 points, thats in the top 5 for blowout wins in the league. None of this is luck. You don’t consistently blow teams out by luck.

  • Tanks-a-lot

    It is entirely possible for a Bulls v Raptors Conference Final.
    Anything can happen, it’s the phucking playoffs baby.

  • morgan c

    I’m loving all the positivity, and I’m super excited for these playoffs… that said, I have a really bad feeling if we have to face the nets in Round One. Just like in 07, we would go in as the division winner and 3 seed playing a 6 seed underachieving Nets team that has way more playoff experience. And I’m just concerned that like 07, we would be overwhelmed by a more savvy and playoff ready opponent. I think we are better than we were in 07, for the record, and am not saying we will lose, but I would be really concerned. I would honestly rather play the Bulls. I just see the Nets taking it to a much higher level when the playoffs roll around. Though I want the 3 seed for team morale, etc., we would be WAY BETTER SERVED falling the the four spot, playing Washington, and then playing Indiana instead of Miami. A much more manageable scenario. Oh well, can’t worry about that stuff too much I guess…

  • Seeten

    I asked Tom Haberstroh this very question during his live chat on friday, but it went unanswered. I even included their record and point differential within the question, and asked why we haven’t been talking about the Raptors seriously. I’ve interacted with him on Truehoop TV live, also, and I bet he read the question, did the research and this is the result. I’m pretty excited someone is talking about the Raps, because I’ve been extremely impressed with them for a while, watching them. They look good.