Several media outlets have released their predictions for the upcoming season, and they all point to the Toronto Raptors winning over 50 games. However, they have them varying between the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd seed in the conference.
ESPN Insider Kevin Pelton (see tweet below) has the Raptors finishing the season with the number 1 seed in the East and a first round matchup against the Detroit Pistons, which is a unique prediction. Most places have been vouching for the Boston Celtics to take over the East. Nonetheless, the Raptors are entering next season with some high expectations league-wide.
This season's projected playoff teams don't include the new-look Lakers. pic.twitter.com/TeqYtD3or6
— ESPN (@espn) August 3, 2018
Vegas oddmakers are projecting the Raptors to win 54.5 games, which are three less than the projection for the Boston Celtics, and tied with the Philadelphia 76ers. It’s clear that next season the Eastern Conference will be mainly battled by those three teams for supremacy. The Raptors have the best player in the conference in Kawhi Leonard, which they haven’t been able to say throughout franchise history.
NBA seas wins
— Jeff Sherman (@golfodds) August 5, 2018
Power Rankings by CBS Sports has the Raptors at number 4 in the league, but 3rd in the Eastern Conference behind (you guessed it) the Celtics and the 76ers. This prediction may prove the least accurate released so far. Although possible, it’s difficult to see the 76ers seeding higher than the Raptors in the conference given the current makeup of both rosters.
The best player in the East missing a trip to the NBA Finals hasn’t happened many times in the conference in the last 20 years (we’ll have to annul the 1999 through 2006 seasons since there wasn’t a clear best player in the East).
So far it has been mostly positive reactions to the prospect of the Raptors doing some damage during the 2018-2019 campaign. Raptors fans should be feeling excited about next season. Let’s drive the high expectations and say this could finally be the time the team reaches the NBA Finals.