Toronto, which was 41-41 and placed second in the Atlantic Division behind the Celtics, added former All-Star forward Jermaine O'Neal in a big trade with the Indiana Pacers, a move that has made the Raptors
a much more potent club. Like Philadelphia, the Raptors
are banking on their new acquisition being healthy and ready to play.
A six-time All-Star, the 29-year-old O'Neal averaged 13.6 points and 6.7 rebounds in just 42 games in 2007-08, and has been hampered by various injuries in recent seasons.
O'Neal and All-Star big man Chris Bosh
are expected to combine to give the Raptors
a dangerous one-two punch down low.
Toronto was eliminated by Orlando in round one of the postseason, and the front office expects bigger things this coming season and in the playoffs.
Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell is definitely on the hot seat, and likely has to lead the Raptors
past the first round if he wants to remain on the sidelines up north. Toronto has won just one playoff series in franchise history, defeating the Knicks, 3-2, in the first round of the 2001 postseason.
The Celtics won the Atlantic Division by a distant 25 games this past season, and remain the team to beat in the East, but thanks to the new impact players, business has picked up in both the division and conference.