Yahoo: The raptors ready to make the playoffs
Old 09-06-2013, 10:16 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Yahoo: The raptors ready to make the playoffs

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Five Reasons the Toronto Raptors Are Ready to Take Down the Boston Celtics and Make the Playoffs
COMMENTARY | Over the past 12 seasons, the Toronto Raptors have found themselves looking up at the Boston Celtics in the standings every year except in 2006-2007, when Paul Pierce spent nearly half the season recovering from an injury and Boston was trying to tank the year in the hopes of landing the number one draft pick in 2007 draft (yeah, that worked out real well). Since the arrival of Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett in 2007-2008, the Celtics have absolutely dominated the Atlantic Division, holding the best record each season except last year, when the aging team finally took that big step backwards everyone had been waiting for since 2010. In contrast, the Raptors have only won the division once over that span and have consistently struggled against Boston, a team which still managed to beat them last year in three out of four meetings despite a lackluster season.

Now that the Celtics have finally entered full rebuilding mode and the Raptors have made some big adjustments to their roster, 2013-2014 should prove to be one where Toronto finally surpasses Boston and even competes for a playoff berth. The following five reasons explain why:

1. Toronto's strong second half

After Toronto acquired NBA star Rudy Gay from the Memphis Grizzlies in January of 2013, the Raptors managed to finish the season at an 18-18 record, only one game worse than the Celtics over their last 36 games. Now that Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are no longer with the club, it's hard to imagine Boston outplaying Toronto over the course of the season.

2. The Raptors had a winning record against playoff teams down the stretch

At the end of March and in early April, Toronto managed to win seven of their last eight games, beating the Celtics, Atlanta Hawks, and Brooklyn Nets once and the Chicago Bulls twice. The Raptors finished the year playing their best basketball, which is always a good sign for a young team looking to build a culture of winning. If they can find a way to carry that success they found at the end of the season over into 2013-2014, they will be stiff competition for one of the bottom three playoff spots.

3. Jonas Valanciunas is ready for a breakout season

It's easy to forget about Valanciunas, the fifth overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft. After playing the first year after the draft for a professional club in his home country of Lithuania, Valanciunas was relegated to backup duty for the recently departed Andrea Bargnani in 2012-2013. Now that Bargnani is gone, Valanciunas has the opportunity at only 21-years-old to get consistent minutes in a starting role, which should be good news for the Raptors judging by his performance throughout March. In 15 games, 14 of which he played in as a starter, Valanciunas averaged 11.4 points per game, 7.3 rebounds, a shooting percentage of .620 and he managed to average over one block per game in limited minutes. This season should provide more consistent minutes, allowing Valanciunas' numbers to increase and his game to develop further.

While the Boston Celtics do have a promising big man of their own, Kelly Olynyk, it's unlikely that the rookie will be able to keep up with Valanciunas on the floor in head-to-head matchups at this point in his career, and most scouts still project Valanciunas to have a better career than Olynyk.

4. Who can keep up with DeMar DeRozan?

DeMar DeRozan seems to get better every year for the Raptors. He improved his shooting percentage, average points per game, rebounding, assists, free-throw percentage and three-point percentage in 2012-2013, and there is no reason to believe that DeRozan, who just turned 24-years-old on August 7, can't continue to improve his skills over the next couple of seasons.

Additionally, the Celtics are going to struggle defending the young guard in head-to-head contests because DeRozan, at 6'7" and 220 pounds, is significantly larger than either Avery Bradley or Courtney Lee, the two players most likely to matchup with DeRozan. Throw into the mix that Boston also has to find a way to stop Rudy Gay and keep up with the scoring of both Raptors perimeter players and you have a recipe for disaster for Celtics fans.

5. Too many question marks for Boston

As many reasons as there are for why Toronto should have a strong season, there are even more reasons to question the upcoming year for the Celtics. For starters, it's not clear when All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo is going to return from a torn ACL; Celtics forward Jared Sullinger recently suggested that it's possible Rondo won't be back in playing shape until December. If this timetable is correct, it will be very hard for Boston to keep up with the Raptors in the playoff hunt.

Other concerns include recent legal troubles for Jared Sullinger, a key part of team success in 2013-2014, the inconsistency of Jeff Green last year, the looming possibility of another major trade and the leadership void left by departing captain Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Boston still has the opportunity to produce a quality season in 2013-2014, but all signs point toward the Toronto Raptors finally having a season where they outperform the Celtics and possibly make the playoffs as well.




Y! SPORTS
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Old 09-06-2013, 12:04 PM   #2 (permalink)
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So we might make the playoffs because Boston sucks, not because we are that good.
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Old 09-06-2013, 12:16 PM   #3 (permalink)
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overall it's a decent article, but it posts many "obviouses". one thing that made me laugh on how wrong it was though was that because Demar is a big SG avery bradley will have a tough time matching up with him. Demar will have a tough time scoring on him, and this is coming from a demar believer.
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Old 09-06-2013, 01:23 PM   #4 (permalink)
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This article seems very pointless and strange to me. Why compare Boston and Toronto as if they have a history. Yes, we are in the same division, but the same can be said for New York, Brooklyn and Phili. It's obvious that we'll be better than Boston because it's common knowledge they're tanking, so I don't see how this is a significant step for the organization. Also why does it even matter that we are better than them. They're not the champs or even contenders? Pointless article.
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Old 09-06-2013, 01:29 PM   #5 (permalink)
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The Knicks and the Nets are clearly better than us. The Celtics and 76ers are in a rebuilding mode and will for sure move a few pieces before the trade deadline. If we make the playoffs I will be excited, but I am not counting on it.
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Old 09-06-2013, 02:02 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by pzabby View Post
overall it's a decent article, but it posts many "obviouses". one thing that made me laugh on how wrong it was though was that because Demar is a big SG avery bradley will have a tough time matching up with him. Demar will have a tough time scoring on him, and this is coming from a demar believer.
It's a very interesting matchup between Demar and Bradley... if Demar can increase his defensive intensity, maybe he can lock him down, but if Avery can develop more of an offensive repertoire, he could continue to do what those against Demar have done in the past. Both young players have a lot to improve on, interesting to see which one can get there.
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Old 09-06-2013, 02:36 PM   #7 (permalink)
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It's a very interesting matchup between Demar and Bradley... if Demar can increase his defensive intensity, maybe he can lock him down, but if Avery can develop more of an offensive repertoire, he could continue to do what those against Demar have done in the past. Both young players have a lot to improve on, interesting to see which one can get there.
Sometimes I wonder what Ross is capable of doing if given the starter role and if we were to let him play through his mistakes and overcome the growing pain. I think his ceiling is as good as DDs if not higher, but I think confidence is an issue more than anything else.
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Old 09-06-2013, 03:28 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Sometimes I wonder what Ross is capable of doing if given the starter role and if we were to let him play through his mistakes and overcome the growing pain. I think his ceiling is as good as DDs if not higher, but I think confidence is an issue more than anything else.
I agree fully, but because DD is here, he won't be afforded the same patience and playing time that DD was as a raw rookie. Maybe it's a good thing for Ross, we'll see..... At some point there will be a need to get Ross more consistent time or risk losing value....
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Old 09-06-2013, 03:40 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I agree fully, but because DD is here, he won't be afforded the same patience and playing time that DD was as a raw rookie. Maybe it's a good thing for Ross, we'll see..... At some point there will be a need to get Ross more consistent time or risk losing value....
Ross has to earn that time too. It's sort of a chicken and egg situation with Ross - is he inconsistent because of inconsistent minutes? Or are his minutes inconsistent because he's inconsistent? Personally I see it as the latter, it just seemed like his head was in it some games and other games it wasn't. When his head was in it, he was extremely impressive.
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Old 09-06-2013, 03:55 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Weird piece - guess it makes sense given that the reporter has bee covering New England sports, but not sure why make such a direct connection between Boston's suckyness and our potential rise. I guess it's a pretty good take on how we can expect to fare against the Celtics next year. Hopefully, we whoop some ass, I'm tired of getting destroyed by them. That Pierce dunk over Bosh a few years back was one of the most embarrassing things that I've seen as a Raps fan (and there isn't a shortage of embarrassing moments in Raps' history, as we all know).
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Old 09-06-2013, 04:39 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Ross has to earn that time too. It's sort of a chicken and egg situation with Ross - is he inconsistent because of inconsistent minutes? Or are his minutes inconsistent because he's inconsistent? Personally I see it as the latter, it just seemed like his head was in it some games and other games it wasn't. When his head was in it, he was extremely impressive.
No doubt he struggled, but he wasn't given the opportunities as he was pulled out immediately after making a mistake or two . He didn't get the same treatment that DD received as a rookie due to a different situation etc As a shooter it's difficult to get it going if you are not confident.
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Old 09-06-2013, 05:32 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Weird piece - guess it makes sense given that the reporter has bee covering New England sports, but not sure why make such a direct connection between Boston's suckyness and our potential rise. I guess it's a pretty good take on how we can expect to fare against the Celtics next year. Hopefully, we whoop some ass, I'm tired of getting destroyed by them. That Pierce dunk over Bosh a few years back was one of the most embarrassing things that I've seen as a Raps fan (and there isn't a shortage of embarrassing moments in Raps' history, as we all know).
We've actually won a few of them over the last couple of years. I remember before 10-11 we couldn't even think about beating them.
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Old 09-07-2013, 10:26 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Ok, toronto is better than boston, we get it. There are still 7-9 teams better than both teams. We'd be lucky to make the playoffs.
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Old 09-07-2013, 11:46 AM   #14 (permalink)
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It's easy to forget about Valanciunas
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Old 09-07-2013, 12:24 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I keep failing at trying to make an analogy for the brutal logic in this article.

"The 2014 Porsche Boxster will be an award winning car - here's 5 reasons why it is better than a Corolla"
"Hugh Jackman will get an Academy nomination this year - here's 5 reasons why he is better than Hugh Laurie"
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Old 09-07-2013, 02:32 PM   #16 (permalink)
hopefully we use our draft pick this year, let's not miss out this years Rodney hood

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all those rudy gay haters always seem to forget that he turned us into a instant .500 team

his contract may be to much but he has proven he has value, and if we make the playoffs then his contract will be redeemed considering how much money MLSE will make from the playoffs
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Old 09-07-2013, 03:06 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Playoffs are fun. And they're a reward for fans, even if Lebron ends up leaving a footprint in T Ross' chest. So I welcome them. But even mature what is the ceiling for this unit? Second tier contender? So I welcome playoffs along with the step of identifying what parT of the core is coming along for a championship shot. Is there enough time to clean this thing up and still get in on the 2014 buiffet?
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Old 09-07-2013, 03:52 PM   #18 (permalink)
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all those rudy gay haters always seem to forget that he turned us into a instant .500 team

his contract may be to much but he has proven he has value, and if we make the playoffs then his contract will be redeemed considering how much money MLSE will make from the playoffs
Lol oh wow, how our standards have lowered lol

Also his contract was never a concern for us in terms of redeeming MLSE's money, it's us worrying about not having that extra money to go after someone better if we had the chance. A player paid his time of money should easily be an all-star. I like Rudy, just saying. I'm not sure if we could get any better, but I no doubt think someone paid a max contract, should be a proven all-star. We'll see if Rudy can turn that corner. He definitely can be.
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Old 09-07-2013, 04:11 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Lol oh wow, how our standards have lowered lol
Mehh, it's not really standards being lowered. It's knowing that we started rebuilding just 3 years ago and to think we're going to be much more than a .500 team at best right now is unrealistic. Got to get to that level of competitiveness and start being a better home team and go from there. Do people expect this team to go from 34 wins to 50? If so you need your heads examined. Let's just start by getting into the playoffs.

If 2 years from now we're "hoping" to be a .500 team then you can bitch. Right now i'd take it knowing that we're getting better.
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Old 09-07-2013, 04:32 PM   #20 (permalink)
hopefully we use our draft pick this year, let's not miss out this years Rodney hood

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we have 2 young players in Jonas and ross that are only getting better and then we have to semi-veteran players in derozan and gay who can both also improve

how does that not make us better automatically, I was just pointing out that when rudy gay showed up we turned into a .500 team and usually that's good enough to make the playoffs in the east

I wouldn't be to shocked if the Raptors were the team that came out of no where this year, we have the talent, and now are bench is stronger

Last edited by rapsmannn; 09-07-2013 at 04:35 PM.
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