The slander against the Toronto Raptors these past two years has been equal parts absurd and hilarious. Fans have watched a team go from playoff obscurity to champions in five years, yet people are still quick to downplay their greatness.
This season has been no different, as we watched the Boston Celtics jump out to a quick 2-0 series lead. It all seemed hopeless in game three until OG Anunoby hit an ice-cold game-winner with 0.5 seconds left on the clock. This shot was all the momentum the Raptors need to rally back and win this series. Carrying the momentum from game three, the Raptors won game four, evening the series at two apiece. Here are the reasons why the Toronto Raptors are capable of becoming back to back champions.
Toronto Raptors Team Defense
It’s laughable how people didn’t expect this from Toronto. Canada’s only NBA team led the NBA in opponent points scored, at 106.5. Their defense is their most significant asset, as they consistently show their versatility on the floor. It’s evident when they adjust their defense to fit specific teams. We see this most clearly with the Milwaukee Bucks, as the Raptors clog the lane to prevent the drives of Giannis Antetokounmpo. This high defensive IQ can be attributed to head coach, Nick Nurse.
The Coaching of Nick Nurse
Firing head coach Dwane Casey and promoting assistant coach Nick Nurse was the Raptors’ most significant change before the 2018-29 season. While Casey is responsible for Toronto’s excellent defensive schemes, he lacked the skill on the offensive end; something Nurse thrived in.
In his first season at the helm, Nurse proved his worth by leading Toronto to a championship over the Golden State Warriors. In the 2019-2020 season, Nurse earned Coach of the Year. A well-deserved award after coaching the Raptors to the second overall seed after losing Kawhi Leonard that off-season. The Raptors would not be nearly as lethal without their coach.
The hate for Toronto is unwarranted. Even after losing their only superstar in the off-season, they still found a way to remain a lethal team in a league full of threats. They proved themselves against the very best; it’s time we give them more credit. Toronto is going to be a scary team for years to come.
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