The Raptors begin their playoff campaign this Saturday against the Indiana Pacers. There was a time when this fact alone would be cause for extreme celebration -- Toronto in the playoffs! -- but now it is serious business. This is the third year in a row the Raptors have been here. But this is the first time the team has looked as good as this.
The Raptors completed the 2015-16 season with a franchise-record 56 wins and their first ever second place finish. That alone would be something to celebrate (and we will, I'm sure, once the playoffs are over). But now, the real work is to be done. As most Toronto sports fans know, the Raptors are one of those teams that are never quite taken seriously. Oh, they can be good, they can compete sometimes too -- but they're never a threat. Until now.
With the 45-37 Pacers in town this Saturday afternoon for Game 1, this represents the best chance the Raptors have had in years -- eight? ten? 15? -- to make some progress in the playoffs. I don't want to get ahead of myself and start looking at the second round (but the Heat tho, eek), but it's hard not to feel like this Raptors team is legit, like they'll get there for sure. They won't win the title, but they won't be made to be a footnote either.
Still, it's also hard not to feel nervous. The Raptors haven't made it out of the first round since 2001. They've been mostly embarrassed since then. We want things to change. We hope things will change.
Now, it's time to see if they will change. How do you feel?