For the first time in eight years, the Toronto Raptors will not be playing postseason basketball. Although all Raptors fans are disappointed that they won’t be able to watch their team compete in the playoffs this year, the odds were always stacked against the Toronto Raptors this season. From a COVID outbreak amongst the team and staff to playing in Tampa, Florida where every “home” game felt like an away game, nothing went in favour of the Toronto Raptors, and it seemed like they were facing obstacle after obstacle throughout the course of the season. With that being said, Raptors fans will be looking for a new team to root for in the 2021 NBA playoffs. So, why not make a list of teams that Raptors fans should be supporting during the play-in tournament and playoffs.
1. Portland Trail Blazers
The first team on this list is the Portland Trail Blazers, and this is for obvious reasons. We still dearly miss our former Toronto Raptor, Norman Powell, who is now a part of the Portland Trail Blazers organization.
This season, Norman Powell had a breakout year, and at the trade deadline, Masai Ujiri and the Toronto Raptors front office decided to trade him for younger talent in Gary Trent Jr., and a veteran in Rodney Hood. Every Raptors fan was saddened by the departure of Powell and for good reason. Over the last couple of years, Norman Powell had established himself as a fan favourite with his entertaining and electric style of play, while at the same time, developing into an elite 3-and-D player.
Although the fact that Norman Powell is a part of the Portland Trail Blazers organization should be the main reason for supporting them, the Trail Blazers are also just an extremely likeable team in general. Their whole roster consists of a bunch of talented and humble players such as Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Carmelo Anthony. This makes them a very easy team to root for, and nowadays, you can not find many teams in the NBA with humble and respectful superstars like the Portland Trail Blazers.
It also seems that through the Gary Trent Jr. and Norman Powell trade, Raptors and Trail Blazers fans have built great camaraderie. So, in this case, there is another incentive to root for the Trail Blazers, and why would you not root for the team that just dealt you one of the most talented young players in the league?
If you choose to root for the Portland Trail Blazers in the NBA playoffs this year, you will be watching nothing short of extremely entertaining and electric basketball. Barring Steph Curry, Damian Lillard is arguably the best show in basketball, and along with Powell, McCollum, and Carmelo Anthony, you will be witnessing some of the best offensive talents on one team, something that you can not take for granted. When all of their guys are firing on all cylinders, the Trail Blazers are one of the most fun teams to watch in the NBA, and they can beat any team on any given night. Their recent stretch of games prove this, and as of late, the Blazers are playing their best basketball of the season, winning eight of their last ten games, and they could most definitely make some noise come playoff time.
If you want to watch a Toronto Raptor legend contribute to a top-tier playoff team this year, you should be rooting for the Portland Trail Blazers. No matter how far they make it in the playoffs this year, when you are watching the Trail Blazers, you will be guaranteed some of the most entertaining basketball that you will ever watch.
2. San Antonio Spurs
Similar to the Portland Trail Blazers, the San Antonio Spurs also have a beloved, former Toronto Raptor on their team – DeMar DeRozan. To this day, DeMar is still recognized as one of the greatest Raptors players of all time, and there is a good reason for this.
DeMar had an amazing nine seasons on the Toronto Raptors, earning four NBA All-Star selections and 2 All-NBA selections. But, unfortunately, he was unable to lead them out of the Eastern Conference, and over Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. So, in the summer of 2018, DeMar was traded to the Spurs, but being traded has not taken away from his importance to the Toronto Raptors organization and the city of Toronto. To this day, DeMar is still greatly appreciated by Toronto Raptors fans around the world and is still an icon and legend in the country of Canada.
This season, DeMar is playing exceptionally well, averaging 21.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 7.0 assists, and is the main reason why the Spurs are currently in the play-in tournament. Although the Spurs are only the 10th seed in the Western Conference right now, they do have a chance to clinch the eighth seed with two consecutive wins in the play-in tournament, but it will definitely be tough. If they do clinch the eighth seed, it will most certainly be because of the play of DeMar, and frankly, the Spurs go as far as DeMar takes them. DeRozan is already having an amazing season this year, and leading the Spurs to an eighth seed would be another amazing accomplishment for him.
At heart, DeMar will forever be a Toronto Raptor, and it is hard to not root for a guy who gave his all to the Toronto Raptors organization. As fans of the Toronto Raptors, we should want nothing but success for DeMar and his team, and this year, that happens to be the San Antonio Spurs.
3. New York Knicks
This final team might be a bit controversial and the idea of supporting the New York Knicks in the NBA Playoffs might not appeal to every Raptors fan. This is because the New York Knicks have Canada’s own, RJ Barrett, who was born in Toronto, Ontario. This likely means that if you are a Raptors fan who isn’t from Canada, you probably have no reason to cheer for the Knicks. But, if you are a Canadian Raptors fan, and want to support one of your hometown boys in the NBA playoffs this year, then you should be rooting for RJ Barrett and the New York Knicks.
RJ and the Knicks are having an amazing season, and they will be making the NBA playoffs for the first time since 2013. This is huge for the NBA, given that New York is known as the “Mecca of Basketball”. When looking at the Knicks impressive 39-31 record this season, a lot of the credit can be given to RJ Barrett, who along with Julius Randle, has been one of the most improved players in the NBA. This season, RJ Barrett is averaging 17.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.0 assists, and at twenty years of age, he has established himself as one of the premier young players in the NBA.
In the NBA Playoffs this year, RJ Barrett is going to be repping the North. If you are a Toronto Raptors fan from Canada, you should be showing some support to our Canadian boys, like RJ, in the playoffs this year.