The Raptors are the East’s last best chance to upset the Cavs
Wrote about the North. An excerpt:
Thanks to pre-trade deadline deals for Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker earlier this year, the Raptors have the ability to play big or small, or even stay “big” with a small-ball group on the floor. Ibaka is a natural four-man who can also slide to the center position, creating space with his jumper on one end of the floor (39.8 percent from three on 4.5 attempts per game with the Raptors after the trade) and eating it up on the other. He’s always been fleet footed and able to cover a lot of ground, and though he didn’t look quite as agile in Orlando, the spring has been back in his step since he was shipped up North.
Tucker, meanwhile, is an annoying motherfucker in the best possible sense of the word. He makes everything difficult for the league’s best forwards, and he can easily slide between the three and the four as well.
With both those players on the court next to Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, the Raptors can slide in any fifth player they want and have enough size, speed, shooting, and defense. Want to play big? Use Jonas Valanciunas and let him go to work in the post. Want to play small? Throw Cory Joseph out there and let these guys run the floor. Want to find a way to split the difference? Try flexy, stretchy big man Patrick Patterson or physical, athletic freak Norman Powell, whose insertion into the starting lineup in place of Valanciunas prior to Game 4 of the Bucks series swung the result Toronto’s way.
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