On the whole, the Toronto Raptors have enjoyed a decent start to the new campaign and Dwane Casey’s men are in a strong position as they continue their hunt for a fourth successive title in the NBA’s Atlantic Division.
With 28 wins from their opening 46 games, Toronto are currently one win ahead of the Boston Celtics in the division and their 9-1 record over the rest of the Atlantic should give Casey’s side the edge in the second half of the campaign.
Being completely honest, the Atlantic Division is one of the worst and least competitive in the NBA and Toronto will be confident of maintaining their spot at the top despite their recent wake-up call.
In previous years, the Raptors have won 48, 49 and 56 regular season games respectively and the current roster are on track for 54 wins this year – a slight downgrade on last season’s incredible effort. However, some still believe that Toronto could go on to win the title if they find their best form…
The 2015-16 campaign was a breakthrough year for Toronto in terms of postseason success; the Raptors pushed eventual champions Cleveland Cavaliers close in the Eastern Conference finals.
That 4-2 defeat could spur Toronto on to challenge for silverware again this year and finishing atop the Atlantic Division will give Casey’s side a slightly easier run of fixtures in the playoffs. However, it would be fair to suggest that the Raptors are in need of a confidence boost after a difficult spell.
Five defeats in a row have hindered Toronto’s chances of toppling the Cavaliers at the top of the Eastern Conference but Casey won’t be too worried about that just yet. First things first, the divisional title must remain the number one priority before thinking about the playoffs.
Getting carried away ahead of the postseason could mean that the Raptors start to get complacent and Golden State Warriors fans witnessed firsthand last season how complacency can all but end a team’s momentum.
When someone reminds you the Warriors lost a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals with the first-ever unanimous MVP pic.twitter.com/IKSJPVv6zG
— Jordan Zirm (@clevezirm) August 25, 2016
At the time of writing, the Raptors are 6-8 in January but they should take great inspiration from their efforts in the last few years. Toronto haven’t finished a month with a losing record since March 2015 and it would be foolish for Raptors fans to condemn their side to another season of failure just yet.
As of January 27th, Toronto are ranked 20th in the NBA when it comes to defensive efficiency but a slightly easier run of games in February should help Casey’s men get back on track as they look to cement their place ahead of the Celtics in the divisional race. bet365 NBA betting markets show the Raptors at -150.00 to retain the Atlantic title and plenty of fans will be backing Toronto to raise their game as the business end of the season approaches.
With DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry in the side, anything is possible and Casey will be backing his side to improve and build momentum ahead of the playoffs. DeRozan has averaged 27.9 points per game this year – almost ten points higher than his career average of 18.9.
It won’t be easy but the Raptors have the talent and quality to put a winning run together and Toronto will still be quietly confident of notching a first NBA crown. Casey’s men have come a long way since their formation in 1995 and a maiden title isn’t too far away.