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Are the Toronto Raptors Quietly Eastern Conference Contenders? 

Glenn Kaplan
521   //    05 Jan 2018, 23:13 IST

Demar DeRozan is playing at a high level

The eastern conference in the NBA maybe not be dynamic, but there a few good teams in the conference. Everyone talks about the Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers possibly meeting up in the eastern conference finals for the second consecutive season, but what about the Toronto Raptors?

No one is talking about them and they are quietly having a great season. Toronto's record is 26-10 and they are 2.5 games of the Boston Celtics for the number one seed in the east. Toronto is two games ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the east.

Can the Toronto Raptors be a threat in the eastern conference come playoff time? Well, they used to be known as a team that choked in the postseason but in 2016, they made it to the conference finals and lost in six games to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Last postseason, Toronto got swept against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the conference semifinals.

If the season ended right now, the Raptors would play the Miami Heat (20-17) in the first round. The Raptors would win that series most likely and their second-round matchup would either be against the (6) Detroit Pistons (20-16) or the (3) Cleveland Cavaliers (25-13).

Demar DeRozan is averaging 25.2 PPG 4.3 RPG 5 APG and 1.2 SPG so far this season. Kyle Lowry is averaging 16.2 PPG 6.1 RPG and 6.9 APG so far this season. Serge Ibaka is a solid third option for the Raptors with 13.8 PPG 6.1 RPG and 1.5 BPG so far this season. Jonas Valanciunas is averaging 10.6 PPG 7.5 RPG and 0.7 BPG so far this season.

Toronto is also getting solid production off the bench. C.J. Miles is averaging 9.8 PPG off the bench. Pascal Siakam is averaging 6.2 PPG 4.7 RPG 0.6 BPG and 0.9 SPG off the bench. Jakob Poeltl is averaging 7.1 PPG and 4.6 RPG off the bench. Normal Powell is averaging 7.5 PPG off the bench. Delon Wright is averaging 8.8 PPG 2.8 RPG and 2.3 APG off the bench. Fred VanVleet is averaging 6.3 PPG 2.0 RPG and 2.9 APG off the

OG Annuoby is averaging 6.5 PPG and 0.9 SPG. He is a solid defender. General Bobby Webster has done a great job drafting and putting this team together. Dwane Casey is a very good head coach. Toronto is averaging 111.6 points per game as a team which is the third best in the NBA. Toronto is giving up 103.8 points per game which is the ninth best in the NBA.

The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Boston Celtics should not take the Toronto Raptors lightly come playoff time or any team for that matter. Toronto is quietly a true championship contender and they are not a playoff laughing stock anymore. It would be a little bit of a surprise if they played in the NBA Finals in June, but in some ways, it wouldn't be surprising.

Glenn Kaplan
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