Can the Toronto Raptors dethrone the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference?

Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images
Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Despite struggling against the Washington Wizards (3-2), the Toronto Raptors look like the number one favourite to advance to the NBA Finals and put an end to Lebron James’ hopes of reaching another NBA Finals series.

Toronto played consistently throughout the season and easily secured the number one spot in the Eastern Conference, taking advantage of their excellent performances and the problems the Cavaliers and the Boston Celtics had to deal with.

Cleveland always had chemistry issues during the season, which affected the squad and prevented it from finishing higher than the fourth place, while the Celtics saw many key players, from Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward to Marcus Smart, be unable to help the team either in the regular season or the playoffs.

On the other hand, the Raptors ended the regular season in a franchise record 59-23. DeMar Derozan and Kyle Lowry played like All Stars, with Jonas Valanciunas and Serge Ibaka playing very well as the supporting cast.

At the same time, CJ Miles, OG Anunoby and Delon Wright offered decent solutions on both ends of the floor. Coach Dwane Casey has made an excellent job so far, with the team ending the regular season in fourth place in scoring (111.3) and sixth in assists (22.3).

Although the squad has faced some ups and downs defensively, it seems this could be the year that Toronto will go all the way and fight for the coveted title.

ORLANDO, FL – APRIL 10: DeMar DeRozan #10 of the Toronto Raptors handles the ball against the Orlando Magic on April 10, 2015 at Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2015 NBAE (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images)

Without a doubt, the presence of the Philadelphia 76ers and the Boston Celtics ensures the Raptors will face a tough challenge en route to the Finals, while they should first overcome the Wizards, who are not willing to give up and will fight until the end.

Although the Cavaliers were initially considered the top team in the East and the one that would challenge the Golden State Warriors or the Houston Rockets for the title, things have been different.

With the Celtics still dealing with injuries, the Raptors and the 76ers have defied the championship betting odds and now are the odds-on favourites to dethrone the Cavs and compete for the title.

With Game 6 against Washington taking place later tonight, Toronto should prove they are the better team and eliminate the Wizards.

If they don’t go all the way to the end this year, especially with Cleveland playing mediocre so far, their season will again end in the most disappointing way. No doubt about it.