Sizing Up the 2014-15 Eastern Conference’s Potential
Before we get to the preview for next season, it’s probably best to see where we came from. But everybody knows the Miami Heat ran over every other team en route to the Eastern Conference crown last season (as shown in the 2014-2015 Eastern Conference preview intro featured image, being accepted by Greg Oden).
So, before looking ahead to this coming season and how they’re projected to finish, we will only revisit the past for one team, the hometown heroes: the Toronto Raptors.
Last season was a dream season for the Raptors. What started so dismally (6-12) resulted in a great piece. Raptors GM Masai Ujiri (bottom) managed to unload Rudy Gay to Sacramento in what was seen as a salary dump primarily. Actually, some, if not all NBA observers, possibly including Ujiri himself, wondered if this wasn’t the Raptors attempt to die to seize the first overall pick and reap the rewards of finishing last: bringing the massively hyped Canadian prospect Andrew Wiggins home with the number one pick.
However, the result wasn’t landing the number one pick.
The Raptors finished a superb 42-22 (an expletive here maybe granted). The latter record was one of, if not the best, mark in the NBA over that span.
Toronto’s acquisitions – Greivis Vasquez, Patrick Patterson, Chuck Hayes, and John Salmons - fit the bill better than anyone could’ve hoped and they missed the draft lottery altogether. Yeah, they made the playoffs. Not only that… they won the Atlantic Division, securing home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs at the aptly named “Jurassic Park” (see below).
What it equaled out to was a 48-34 record, the best record in franchise history… good enough for the third seed in the East as well. What happened after, it doesn’t matter. Brooklyn was a very experienced team. On the other hand, it was hard for the Raptors to remember post-season basketball, let alone play any.
That Brooklyn allegedly tanked to face Toronto instead of Chicago, well, that was a calculated slap in the face. Masai Ujiri addressed that sentiment before the playoff series, announcing exactly what the Raptors and their fans were thinking. Just YouTube “Masai and Brooklyn” for a fantastic one-liner (however, viewer discretion is advised).
That, in a nut shell, brings us to the present where the Raptors hope to build off last season’s success. Can they do it?
Come back for the answer soon.
Click here to go back to the introductory page, which includes links to the rest of the preview series.