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Home - 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 conferences.

Eastern Conference

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.

sixers vs raptors

"1/24/14 | Sixers vs. Raptors" (CC BY-ND 2.0) by Philadelphia 76ers

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.


Western Conference

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.

pau gasol

                                 "Pau Gasol" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Keith Allison

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.

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