The defending champion, Toronto Raptors are back in the playoffs with motivation and a chip on their shoulder.
It isn’t typical for a team to win a championship, and then head into the following season with such an urge to prove people wrong. Besides, typically when you win a title, you’re one of the automatic favourites for the following season.
The Raptors found themselves in a slightly different predicament, when final MVP, Kawhi Leonard departed for the Los Angeles Clippers, and their team was viewed by most as a first-round exit at best. Some even predicted the Raptors to finish outside the top eight in the East.
With experience, a talented roster, the most likely coach of the year, and that chip on their shoulder, the Raptors surged through the regular season till it came to a halting stop on that night in March.
The Raptors have locked back into the post-season, and with a three-game lead over the Boston Celtics and a 6.5 game deficit on the Milwaukee Bucks, a second-place finish looks probable.
Toronto may not have the top-end talent that the majority of championship teams typically have, but they have a deep and talented roster. Not to mention a core that has played together since last season, and potentially the best coach in the league, in Nick Nurse.
They may be a step behind the Bucks, Lakers and Clippers, but if there is one thing we have been shown this season, it is to never rule out the Raptors. They will be coming into Orlando ready and gunning to reclaim the Larry O’Brien.
For the most part, we are aware at what this team is, but there are still a few questions which just have to have people wondering heading into the resumption of the season.