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Predicting Disney: Toronto Raptors

Predicting Disney: Toronto Raptors

Hot off winning the franchise’s first NBA championship in 2019, the Toronto Raptors were expected to take a pretty significant step back in 2020 after losing superstar Kawhi Leonard in free agency. Unfortunately for the rest of the Eastern Conference, that hasn’t been the case. Rising star Pascal Siakam quickly stepped up to fill the void as Toronto’s offensive focal point and with consistent production from teammates Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Norman Powell, and Serge Ibaka, the Raptors are still hanging around the top of the Eastern Conference.

Although they lack a true superstar, the Raptors remain contenders with an outside shot of upsetting the league’s powerhouses and repeating as back-to-back champions. The reason they continue to be competitive is due to a wicked combination of high-level coaching, a team-first approach to each game, and consistency from every position on the court. Heading into Orlando, every team faces an absolute dog fight but the balance that the Raptors bring with them gives them a leg up on the competition. With that being said, let’s take a look at the Raptor’s road to the playoffs:

Eight-Game Schedule 

August 1 – Los Angeles Lakers, Prediction: Loss 

With the Lakers taking on the Clippers on opening night, they will already have a game under their belt. Given the degree of uncertainty as we head back into the season, any experience will be a huge leg up. Add that to the fact that the Lakers already boast two of the leagues top five players, it’s easy to see the Raptors lose this game

August 3 – Miami Heat, Prediction: Win

By this point, Miami and Toronto will in similar situations. It will be a tough, competitive game that has the potential to go either way. Given that both teams will be rusty, I’ll give the edge to the Raptors who rely a little less on the jump shot and are bringing with them a legitimate championship mettle.

August 5 – Orlando Magic, Prediction: Win 

This game should be straightforward for Toronto. Although the circumstances around the Orlando bubble will add a degree of unpredictability to every game, the talent disparity between these two squads should lead Toronto to a comfortable win. With how tough Toronto’s schedule is, this is a game they really need to win.

August 7 – Boston Celtics, Prediction: Win

This will be a good opportunity for both Toronto and Boston to size-up one another before the playoffs. Expect a very competitive, chippy game that exudes a playoff atmosphere despite the absence of fanfare. Again, this game could go either way, but I’ll give Toronto the advantage as the Celtics will be playing their third game in 4 nights.

August 9 – Memphis Grizzlies, Prediction: Win

Although Memphis boasts some very exciting and talented young basketball players on their roster, this game should be very winnable for Toronto. The Raptors can throw multiple looks at Ja Morant while the presence of Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka at the rim will give sits to anyone trying to score on the inside.

August 10 – Milwaukee Bucks, Prediction: Loss

Toronto can likely circle this game on the calendar as a scheduling loss. Playing Milwaukee is difficult enough, however, the Raptors will be playing on the second night of a back-to-back giving the Bucks further advantage. Expect the Raptors to be competitive in this game, while ultimately coming short.

August 12 – Philadelphia 76ers, Prediction: Win 

It will be interesting to see which version of the 76ers shows up to Orlando. The Raptors have had success against Philadelphia this season, but no team has the potential to upset the order of this season more than the Sixers. If Philly find a way to turn their season around in the bubble, this game could be very tight.

August 14 – Denver Nuggets, Prediction: Loss

At this point in the season, we may see Nick Nurse afford some rest to Toronto’s starters before ramping things up in the playoffs. The Nuggets on the other hand will still likely be fighting for seeding at this point. This game could go in a number of directions, but look to see the Raptors take their foot off the gas in this game as they prepare to walk through fire in the playoffs.

Final Record: 51-21

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