1 DeMar DeRozan has come into his own
Named as an All-Star starter for the first time in his career, the 2017-18 NBA season has been a coming out party of sorts for DeMar DeRozan. He has gone from underrated scorer to a legitimate superstar and is the primary focal point of the Raptors offense. He can put the team on his back and deliver clutch baskets which will be huge in the playoffs. If he can catch fire and score like he is capable of, the Raptors could go all the way.
2 They're all about winning
When DeRozan came out this week and said “As long as we win, that’s all I care about,” you get an insight into exactly what this team is about. If your superstar and team leader has this mindset and determination to win it spreads throughout the roster.
In modern-day basketball where statistics and numbers are all the rage, the Raptors concern themselves only with wins on the board. They have the most wins in the east and their stellar record is a testament to their winning mentality.
3 Serge Ibaka will have the height advantage against anyone
In an era where the stretch-four has become a staple in most teams, the Raptors buck the trend and stick with their traditional power forward Serge Ibaka. Offensively this means that Ibaka will have a mismatch against most contending teams.
Establishing him in the post early and gaining the ascendency down low will be pivotal in their chances of playoff success. Defensively he may get caught out, however, he is athletic and a respectable perimeter defender that should be more than capable of holding his own.
4 Their bench is highly efficient and underrated
Fred Van Vleet, Jakob Poeltl, Pascal Siakam, CJ Miles, Delon Wright, OG Anunoby and Lucas Nogueira are not household names by any means. Nor are they players that will drop 30 points in a game. What they are, though, is a perfect balance of role players that do their job night in and night out.
Poeltl and Siakam have become quality big men off the bench to hold down the second unit. Miles and Wright are excellent floor spacers and three-point shooters. Van Vleet has become a stellar backup point guard this season and can even play alongside Kyle Lowry and run the second unit.
Their bench production will be huge for them in any best-of-seven playoff series.
5 They have learned from their previous playoff disappointments
This Raptors core has been together for a few years now. Each year they have an excellent regular season followed by an underwhelming post-season and early exit.
This looks like a different Toronto team though. They’re not losing the easy games they have in the past. They’re competing hard night in and night out and playing their best basketball against the best teams in the league. They look to have matured and ready to conquer their post-season demons.
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