Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.
On Tuesday night, the Toronto Raptors wrapped up their 2018-2019 season by dominating the Minnesota Timberwolves 120-100. The season finale game basically summed up how successful the Raptors' season was this year. They finished with a franchise second-best record of 58 wins and only 24 losses, locking up second place in the eastern conference and second place in the entire NBA. Nick Nurse couldn't have asked for a better rookie year as an NBA head coach - through constant injuries, trades and changeups, he and the Raps managed to stay on top of the league, finishing ahead of last year's champions and sweeping them 2-0 in the season series. It's becoming clear that the Toronto Raptors' 2019 championship odds are actually good this year.
Kawhi Leonard posted career highs across the board. He never stopped improving all season long, and the best is yet to come as everyone waits for playoff Kawhi Leonard to be unleashed. Pascal Siakam shocked fans with his outstanding growth this year, proving he's a force to be reckoned with. He was unstoppable this season with most defences having a hard time guarding him. He has the size, the speed, the strength and the agility to make him almost unstoppable, so it's clear why he's a leading candidate for this season's MIP award.
With Leonard and Green's arrival and players like Siakam, Ibaka and Van Vleet stepping up their game this season, Kyle Lowry was also able to come into his own. Lowry was able to focus solely on becoming the best point guard he could be without having to worry about being a secondary scorer. Lowry became a solid playmaker for the Raptors this season and finished the year in second, averaging 8.7 assists per game only behind Russel Westbrook.
As the Raptors end their amazing season on a high note, the most important question remains - can the Raptors bring home the title? Do they have what it takes to go all the way?
There's no question that the Raptors are top contenders. The team has players who have won championships, MVP and defensive player of the year awards. Not to mention the skill and depth that the Raptors have on the bench. With all this in mind, there's no reason why the Raptors wouldn't be capable of making a serious run for the championship this year.
For this to happen though, everyone on the team is going to have to do their part. When the bench gets called up, Anunoby, Powell, McCaw, Van Vleet, and Ibaka are going to have to do damage on both ends of the court. The pressure is on to get big stops, work the ball fast and capitalize on all the open shots they create.
Defensively, the Raptors are one of the best in the league. Even when their offence isn't working for them, their defence keeps them ahead. They make their opponents work hard for their points. Offensively, they seem to have gotten their groove back - the Raptors have been a much better shooting team during the final stretch of the season. They ended up making more than 1000 three-pointers this season, so it's clear that they're also a lethal shooting team.
If they come up big on the defensive end and stay calm and patient on the offensive end, they will make their first appearance at an NBA Finals match and potentially take home the title. The Raptors have all the moving parts, the talent, the drive and desire to make it happen this year. I think it's very possible that Toronto gets their first NBA championship in 2019.