QJ Sports: Toronto Raptors’ hot start

After an inspiring return to the playoffs last spring, it seems like everyone on this side of the U.S. border is ready to make the Toronto Raptors their new favourite team.

Despite their continued strong play this fall, any hopes for the Raptors to reign supreme must be tempered by the need to see sustained success from the franchise. A deep playoff run this year would go a long way to creating more faith in the team.

Starting the 2014-15 season at 9-2, the Raptors sit atop the NBA’s Eastern Conference. The Raptors look poised to build off a franchise record 48 wins last season, with early talk of them winning the conference or even a league title backed up by their hot start. In a nation of hockey-crazed fans, basketball often falls behind when there’s just one professional team compared to seven. For years, the Raptors toiled with mediocrity, failing to make the playoffs from 2008 until just last year.

Now, with a very successful “We The North” marketing campaign, coupled with an exciting young roster, an emphatic general manager in Masai Ujiri, a well-liked coach in Dwane Casey and the notoriety of having Toronto-born rapper Drake as an official team ambassador, it wouldn’t be a hard case to make that the Raptors are currently the best run all-around sporting team in the country.

Within recent years, the Raptors have been capitalizing on marketing, with nearly every game played on national television. Previously, their games had taken a seat on the back burner.

Without a true superstar, the Raptors have made themselves a respectable well-rounded team, with a solid starting five and a deep bench.

The Raptors have used to the perfect blend of a fast-paced offence mixed with a stout defence to raise their case as one of the NBA’s best teams.

Be it as a lifetime diehard or a casual follower, it’s clear the Raptors right now are as good as they’ve ever been. The Raptors are looking to move into the upper echelon of NBA franchises and it appears they’re definitely headed in the right direction.

Winning a second straight division title in a row and competing for a top spot in the conference would help legitimize a team that’s often been in the lower half of the league, and far from the most popular team in the city.

But as any knowledgeable sporting fan knows, there’s more to a season than just 11 games, and there’s more to a team than just a regular season. Since their inception in 1995, the Raptors have just one playoff series victory to their name, way back in 2001.

The NBA is no doubt a very tough league to win in, and before the Raptors can prove to their fans, themselves and the league that they’re able to contend on a consistent basis, and ultimately win a league title, there’s really not much to celebrate.

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