Toronto Raptors Closing in on Locking up One Seed as Playoff Near
The Toronto Raptors have been stumbling over the past two weeks, but then everything clicked on Wednesday night.
On the heels of a poor effort against the rival Cleveland Cavaliers, the Raps finally received a complete team effort on Wednesday night. It seems that people very quickly forgot how good this Raptors team is, but after dismantling the Celtics by a score of 96-78 on their home floor, the Raptors all but confirmed that the road to the Finals goes through the Toronto.
And that is the scary part.
While the Raptors nearly beat the Cavaliers on Cleveland’s home floor, Toronto is a completely different animal on their home turf. They feed off the energy of the crowd and are more engaged and with Games 1 an 2 taking place in the confines of the Air Canada Centre, the Raptors have proven to be nearly impossible to beat.
Let’s not forget, this is a team that beat ended the Houston Rockets winning streak in Toronto, a team that blew out the Boston Celtics not once, but twice, in Toronto. More importantly, they obliterated LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in Toronto.
This team is legit and despite a stumble over the past two weeks – a stumble that happens to every team over the span of a length 82-game regular season, the Raptors have continued to prove as to why they are the class of the East.
“Every single one of them is extremely important,” said DeMar DeRozan said following the win. “Once next weekend starts it’s literally win or go home. There’s no ‘my bads’ or ‘I’ll get the next one.’ These four games are critical and us playing extremely hard and having a rhythm and understand that our confidence has to be at an all-time high headed into next week.”
For the Raptors, it starts on the defensive end, despite being a top five offensive team in the entire league. The Raptors are deep and have plenty of length and versatility that creates mismatches for the opposing team.
“I thought our defensive focus was there, our attention to detail, guys were where they were supposed to be, a few hiccups but a big improvement over last night,” said Raptors head coach Dwane Casey. “Again, it’s about competition, it’s about competing at a high level with a big picture in mind, not just trying to win that one game. We’re trying to do something special.”
Next up for the Raptors is a date with the Indiana Pacers. The key from here on out is to continue to regroup and refocus and to go into the playoffs not only with the first seed in the East, but the mindset of proving all of their doubters wrong.