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Toronto Raptors Can Make The ECF

The NBA odds for the Raps to win the Atlantic Division are still behind the Boston Celtics.

There has been a lot of action going on within the Toronto Raptors organization this offseason and despite winning the division last year and picking up Kawhi and Danny Green while holding on to Lowry and Ibaka, the NBA odds for the Raps to win the Atlantic Division are still behind the Boston Celtics.

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Raptors Sharpen Their Teeth (for a year)

DeMar Rozen was great for the organization. But let’s be honest, Kawhi Leonard is a different beast entirely. The offensive production capability is comparable, but Leonard adds an intensity of defense that will make the Raps even harder to beat. He averages two steals per game and six rebounds, but his lock-down defense is something that can’t easily be quantified on a sheet of paper. Integrating Kawhi with Danny Green is another bonus not only because they already know how to work together, but because Green is another invaluable asset on the defensive side of the ball.

Last season’s departure from the playoffs was based around defensive collapse. With OG Anunoby backing up Leonard, the Raptors are deeper on D than they ever have been. But this may only last for one season. There had been some concern over whether or not Leonard wanted to be in Toronto and if that would affect his effort during the 2018-2019 campaign. He seems to be gelling with the team, but sources told ESPN’s, Adrian Wojnarowski that even after bringing Green along, and hiring Kawhi’s friend Jeremy Castleberry to the coaching staff … Leonard would still prefer to move to the Lakers or Clippers upon free agency.

So, it’s highly likely that after this season, the Raps will be sans DeRozen and sans Leonard. They could end up in medium rebuild mode after this season, so they had better strike while the iron is hot.

Updated Atlantic Division Odds

  • Boston Celtics -133
  • Toronto Raptors +273
  • Philadelphia 76ers +324
  • Brooklyn Nets +7672
  • New York Knicks +10231

Despite the Celtics being ahead on the odds-boards again, the Raptors have a great shot at winning the division and entering the playoffs once more as the number one seed. As we mentioned above, the weakest link in the post-season was on the defensive side of the ball. We all saw how the Celtics fell apart without Kyrie, so depth may continue to be an issue for the Celtics.

Speaking of depth, another Kawhi concern was all of the secrecy regarding his health. But Phil Handy has recently stated that Leonard looks good.

“He’s in great shape. Body looks good, he’s feeling good, he’s moving well. I don’t anticipate any issues or any problems. He’s working hard and he’s a hard worker.” – Phil Hardy

If Leonard stays healthy and plays his heart out to keep his free agency stocks as high as possible, there is a great chance that the Raptors could win the Eastern Conference this year.

A funny discrepancy is the Raptors are above the 76ers to win the division, but the Sixers are listed second to the Celtics to win the conference with Toronto just a smidge behind at third most likely. Well, here is a news flash: the Raptors first-round playoffs exit curse is over. Both the 76ers and Raptors exited in the second round last season, and with the defensive additions, the Raptors are likely going to play in the Eastern Conference Finals.

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