How Toronto Raptors Can Find Success in NBA's Eastern Conference
Will the Toronto Raptors make the playoffs? That’s the question that every Raptors fan is asking every year. This season, however, the hope toward that goal is bigger than ever.
The improvements made to the team will at least put the Raptors to the point where they are a bubble team, where a few wins or losses will decide whether they make the playoffs or not.
To be successful in the Eastern Conference, the Raptors are going to have to be better than they ever have been before.
As the “Superteam” era has begun, the Raptors are going to have to take advantage of the teams they should beat and at least put up a fight against the Miamis and the Los Angeleses of the league.
Here is a detailed look on what the Toronto Raptors have to do against each team in the Eastern Conference to be successful.
Against the Western Conference
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First, let’s get the Western Conference out of the way. As it goes for every team in both conferences, the Raptors need to do well against the opposing conference.
Losing to them might not give the opposing team valuable points in the Raptors' race to the Eastern Conference playoffs, but it means they are not gaining points. It’s a huge cliché, but it’s true.
Against the Southeast Division
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Atlanta Hawks – The Hawks were a middle-of-the-pack playoff team, but traded Joe Johnson to the Brooklyn Nets for a package. As the package came from a team that wasn’t all that good last season, it’s unproven what the new players can do for the Hawks. A two-out-of-three result would be a good result.
Orlando Magic – The Magic are not the same team they have been for the past few seasons. Without Dwight Howard, they are going to be in deep when it comes to keeping pace with the rest of the Eastern Conference. This is a team the Raptors need to beat at least two out of the three times they play them.
Washington Wizards – Another one of the league’s worst teams, let’s say that this is another season series that the Raptors need to sweep.
Against the Central Division
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Chicago Bulls – The Bulls were the best team in the Eastern Conference last season and should be near the top once again. One win against them would be nice.
Cleveland Cavaliers – The Raptors finished just two wins ahead of the Cavaliers in the standings. As the Cavaliers continue to improve through the draft, they could be on the same trajectory as to when they could be consistently contending.
Detroit Pistons – The Raptors and Pistons finished two wins apart with the Pistons ahead. If the Raptors are to be successful, they need to beat teams like the Pistons.
Indiana Pacers – The Pacers were one of the surprise teams of last season, making it to the second round of the playoffs. If last season’s run was a fluke, then the Raptors could have a good result against them. If not, there could be trouble.
Milwaukee Bucks – A team in the same group as Detroit, the Raptors are going to have to win at least two of the games against the Bucks.
Against the Atlantic Division
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Boston Celtics – No matter who they lose in the offseason, the Celtics always seem to be the best team in the Atlantic Division. That shouldn’t change this year. However, Toronto seems to be able to beat Boston in at least one of their games every year.
Brooklyn Nets – With all the improvements the Nets made in the offseason, they will not be the pushovers they have been for quite some time now. This will be another tough series for the Raptors.
New York Knicks – The Knicks lost Jeremy Lin to the Houston Rockets and Landry Fields to the Raptors by offer sheets. It’s unknown how badly these losses will hurt the Knicks, but this is a series from which Toronto should at least take two games.
Philadelphia 76ers – The addition of Andrew Bynum instantly turns the 76ers into a force to be reckoned with. Seeing that they were the eighth-place team last year, that could only be bad for the Raptors.