- Could the Raptors and the Spurs Shock the Cavs and the Warriors?
Could the Raptors and the Spurs Shock the Cavs and the Warriors?
There is an
extremely familiar look about this NBA season from last year's, namely
the Cleveland Cavalier and the Golden State Warriors currently topping
the Eastern and Western Conferences, respectively. But while the best
two teams from last season are again sitting pretty and looking obvious
contenders to reach the NBA Finals this season, both have looked much
more beatable than they did at this point 12 months ago.
This has opened the prospect, for a lot of people, of teams that could
challenge the big two for the two Conference titles, specifically an
in-form Toronto Raptors and the San Antonio Spurs.
Let's take a closer look at two franchises that could end up shocking
the league by ending the regular season lifting their respective
Toronto Raptors: When looking at how well the Raptors have played
over the past three seasons, it won't come as a surprise to many to see
the Canadian franchise sitting second in the Eastern Conference and top
of the Atlantic Division. With DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry again
producing some scintillating basketball, the Raptors will feel as
though they have the talent to really make a charge for the
championship this season.
While this roster had been written off for being too inexperienced in recent years, you only had to look at their recent destruction of the Los Angeles Lakers to see why many Toronto fans feel those younger players are ready to challenge for the title.
Having fallen just short of winning the Eastern
Conference last year, it was Cleveland that broke Raptors hearts again
in the Conference Finals, beating the Canadians 4-2 on their way to
that elusive NBA title. Also chasing that first championship, Toronto
are showing all the signs of being real contenders this season, and
LeBron et al will need to keep an eye on the Raptors.
San Antonio Spurs: Similar to the Raptors in that the Spurs are
again second in their conference behind a franchise many expect to go
on and reach the Finals, San Antonio fans will be hoping to see their
team make up for last year's disappointing postseason. Having finished
second in the Western, the Spurs' hopes of being named NBA champions
for the sixth time in their history were dashed in the Conference
semi-finals by the Oklahoma City Thunder. That heartbreak looks to be
behind them, however, and San Antonio have all the tools to be major
players again this year.
As well as hanging onto their star players, the Thunder added the
experience presence of Pau Gasol during the offseason. The
Spaniard has already made himself a firm fan favorite at the AT&T
Center, scoring a season-high 21 points, including six assists, in San Antonio's victory over the Detroit Pistons.
Gasol, along with the likes of Leonard Kawhi and
LaMarcus Aldridge, could be the difference in the Spurs cutting
the gap between themselves and the Golden State Warriors.