Toronto Raptors prepare for their date with destiny


The Toronto Raptors have just completed the most successful regular season in franchise history, but how far do they have to advance in the playoffs, for the campaign to be considered a success?

No matter what happens from here on out, this season has arguably already been a success for the Toronto Raptors. They set a new high for wins, clinched their first ever top seed in the East and secured the second-best record in the entire NBA.

However, it may not feel like a success, depending on how the playoffs pan out. The Raptors are ready for their date with destiny, but what exactly does fate have planned for them?

For example, if Toronto loses in the first round to the Washington Wizards, this season will definitely be perceived as a failure. Similarly, if they are knocked out by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the conference semi-finals (if the Cavs advance, which you figure they will, especially with the playoff edition of LeBron James in tow).

Heck, assuming the Raptors advance and face the Boston Celtics in the East Finals, even that could be seen as a failure if they lose. Really, Toronto should be able to beat an injury-hit Celtics team, missing Kyrie Irving.

So essentially, nothing short of a first ever trip to the NBA Finals will be seen as a failure in the eyes of many. And even then, a lot of fans will fancy their chances, regardless of how strong any potential opponent is.

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For example, while the Houston Rockets have the best record in the league, the Raptors swept the season series against them. And even though the Golden State Warriors would be favourites, at least Toronto would have home court advantage for the series.

The Raptors just missed out on 60 wins with Wednesday night’s 116-109 overtime loss to the Miami Heat. It would have provided a poetic-sounding symmetry to the 22-60 record the team registered the season before Dwane Casey arrived.

In the grand scheme of things though, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is this is the best roster in franchise history.

What matters is DeMar DeRozan‘s had arguably the best all-around season of his nine-year career. What matters is Jonas Valanciunas has had the most efficient and productive season of his six years in the NBA.

And what really matters is the Raptors have the deepest bench in the league. Yes, starters usually average more minutes come playoff time, but the reserves will still be key.

In that respect, perhaps the only really negative from the regular season finale in Miami, was an injury to Fred VanVleet. He was forced to leave the action late in the fourth quarter with a bruised right shoulder, and looked in real pain.

VanVleet has had an excellent season and will be missed if he is out for an extended period of time. If he is absent, Delon Wright will take his place and Norman Powell will likely see more minutes.

Overall thought, the Toronto Raptors have never been so good. Now, it’s just a case of going out and proving it on the big stage.

Next: Valanciunas fires warning shot ahead of playoffs

What’s your perception of the season up to this point? How far do the Toronto Raptors have to advance in the playoffs, for you to consider the 2017-18 campaign a success? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.