The Toronto Raptors are officially in uncharted waters.
The 2013-14 club set a franchise record for wins in a season on Monday night with their 110-100 win over the Milwaukee Bucks, per The National Post's Eric Koreen:
The previous record of 47 was achieved twice, by the 2006-07 and 2000-01 squads, which both went 47-35.
The 2006-07 team was led by All-Star forward Chris Bosh. They won the franchise's first Atlantic Division title and claimed the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference before getting upset by the No. 6 seed New Jersey Nets in the first round of the playoffs.
The 2000-01 version put together probably the most successful season in Raptors history. Led by All-Star Vince Carter, they finished second in the Central Division (under the old four-division format), but only managed the No. 5 overall seed in a tougher Eastern Conference.
While the 2013-14 club's record has been a total team triumph, perhaps no current Raptor can appreciate their success like DeMar DeRozan and Amir Johnson, who have spent four and five seasons in Toronto, respectively, without making the postseason.
After clinching a playoff berth, DeRozan reflected on just how far the franchise has come, per Koreen:
It makes it feel all worth it: the hard work, the struggles, the nights going home just frustrated, don’t want to turn on no sports [on the television]. It really shows you that if you stick at it and don’t give up, not to sound cliché, that it definitely pays off. Amir knows we’ve been through tough times here but we just look at each other like, you can’t give up now. You’ve got to learn from it even when things are going bad and that’s what we did.
But Toronto's biggest challenge still lies ahead. While the Raptors have already clinched home-court advantage in the first round, their future opponent remains to be seen. They will likely face either the Brooklyn Nets or the Washington Wizards.
This is a glorious time in Toronto, a moment this long-suffering fanbase has looked forward to for years. However, the 2006-07 club has already shown that few people will look back fondly on a division winner that bows out in the first round of the postseason.
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