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Avoiding Extinction

The Toronto Raptors are a solid team, they have an entire country of fans, they've made the playoffs 4 years in a row and have even made it to the conference finals. Compared to most of the league Toronto has been relatively successful but how enjoyable is a perennial top 3/4 seed in the east? How many first and second round playoff exits is too many? They're in the east where no one aside form the Celtics is making it past Lebron, the East views Lebron how the rest of the league views Golden State. This off season almost every move was talked about with the Warriors in mind. GM's rumoured to be biding time, trying to time a roster to rise as the champs fall or building a team to play to their weaknesses. So what are the Raptors plans? They've done an amazing job of finding serviceable players in the draft, keeping their roster anchors and even picking up help through free agency and trades but nothing that has moved the needle in terms of taking it to the next level.

Maybe the Raptors front office is happy with the current level of winning, maybe its about supporting a market in Canada but maybe they could be so much more. Having watched a lot of Raptors playoff basketball I'm left with a sour taste in my mouth when it comes to their post season effort and effectiveness. Most notably Kyle Lowry who's notorious for disappearing when things really matter. Using the eye test almost anyone can find his playoff game disappointing being that he's the second best scoring option on the team behind the high usage of Demar DeRozan. Their game plan throughout the regular season seems to rely on swarming defence and outside shooting from a rotating supporting cast, while in the post season, deep into any close game the team begins to collapse into a system of pounding the ball then leaning on DeRozan/Lowry isolation plays. This year however looks different. The Raptors came into this season with coach Dwane Casey preaching a new kind of ball, one heavy with ball movement and once more people likened it Golden State's sharing mentality. So far it has worked, the Raptors don't just look good, they look different and as a Canadian I can't help but get my hopes up like every year, if this new mentality can translate to the post season the conference finals are within reach. Unfortunately the Raptor's finals window is nearly closed, their chances against the Cavs are none and the mighty Celtics may have just pushed Toronto even further from their goal. What can Toronto do to escape this fate? Blowing it up is too risky but staying here is getting old, thinking back to the Chris Bosh days and having to watch our lord and saviour Andrea Bargnani, I'm happy with where they are now but a Canadian NBA champ? Hot dang, thats what I wanna see.

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