Inside the Paint: Raptors Will Challenge Boston For The Atlantic

Bleacher ReportCorrespondent IAugust 13, 2009

BOSTON - NOVEMBER 10:  Jose Calderon #8 of the Toronto Raptors and Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics exchange words on November 10,  2008 at TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics defeated the Toronto Raptors 94-87.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The Toronto Raptors are putting themselves in position to be direct challengers for the Atlantic Division.

Of course, the squad would have to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Philadelphia and New Jersey.

The Raptors now look like a 45-win team, a nice improvement from that of a team that languished in the gallows last season.

Bryan Colangelo recognized his mistakes, and in the process, remade the entire coaching staff with the hire of Jay Triano, the first full-time Canadian head coach in the Association, and one who’s work was given rave reviews by USA Basketball officials.

Triano has already shown he can coach at the professional level, and his extensive international experience and seven years as an NBA assistant make him a more than qualified candidate for the head-coaching position. 

The additions of Reggie Evans and Jarret Jack, along with Belinelli, Turkoglu, athletic wing DemarDeRozan, Nesterovic, and the core of Bosh, Calderon, and Bargnani would give the Raptors the chance to be a contender in the East.

Like Colangelo, Triano is a big proponent of the fast-break basketball; something of which the Raptors hope will carry the team to greater heights, but also develop a basketball brand of Colangelo’s vision.

Boston have still maintained their core, and added Rasheed Wallace to the equation, the 76ers are returning to their old roots with the uniform change, but much would have to be expected of Elton Brand, who hopes to return to form after going another injury-plague season.

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Boston is expected to challenge for the Atlantic Division once again with the core of Allen, Pierce, and Garnett.

However, with Philadelphia, Toronto, and New Jersey all sporting younger and faster lineups, Boston knows that its window of opportunity may be closing sooner rather than later.

The Raptors are hoping that their summer overhaul at least gives Chris Bosh the re-assurance that the team is serious about contending.

Toronto would be looking to make a fast start to the season, but would have to do so with the likes of Cleveland and San Antonio within their early part of the schedule.

There is hope among the Raptors faithful that the Raptors could eventually repeat the success of the 2006-2007 season, where the team posted its best record of 47 wins, and helped itself to winning its first division title in franchise history.

However, that will depend on the success that Toronto gains on the court, and more importantly, if the new eight additions to the team can find a way to gel quickly while develop a winning formula successfully.

It will also depend on Chris Bosh and Jose Calderon continuing to put up the kinds of numbers, and Andrea Bargnani further improving his play from the last half of the previous season.

As a full time coach, Jay Triano would have an opportunity to finally stamp his mark on the team come training day, and all signs point to Triano possibly picking up from where he started when he inherited the team early last season. 



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