Arts & Entertainment Editor
Since February’s All-Star Break, the Toronto Raptors have excelled far beyond their recent seasons. The team clinched their second Atlantic Division title as well as the third seed in the Eastern conference.
However, if they were in the Western, as opposed to the Eastern conference, it would be an entirely different story. With their record of 48 wins and 34 losses, they wouldn’t have appeared in the post-season at all if Toronto fell on the Western seaboard.
The 8th seed Dallas Mavericks barely made it into the post-season with their 49 wins. The Phoenix Suns found themselves on the outside looking in even though they have 48 wins – the same amount as the Raptors. It has been evident for several years that the West has been the stronger conference but a clear answer as to why has never been figured out.
This also isn’t to say that the Raptors aren’t one of the best teams in the league. The addition of former Kings’ players Greivis Vasquez, John Salmons, Patrick Patterson and Chuck Hayes for Rudy Gay ignited a huge turnaround for the Raptors. But it raises many “what-if?” scenarios.
The most pressing question being: what if the Raptors had started off the season with this squad and chemistry? The team could have been serious contenders to win the East and would likely have had a top fiver record in the league. If you consider their sluggish start to the season expectations will be high for the next one, especially if they make it past the first round against the Brooklyn Nets.
However, for the Raptors to keep this momentum they need to utilize their leader on the court, Kyle Lowry, and their head coach Dwane Casey, to their best of their abilities. Both are in the final year of their contracts. The players themselves have expressed how much they trust Casey and Lowry at the helm. Hopefully Masai Ujiri, the team’s General Manager, decides to stop teasing fans and members of the organization by finally letting us know what he has in plans for the new and improved Raptors.