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.