Why the Toronto Raptors are still number two in the east

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Football News

Much has been made about the improvement of the Boston Celtics this summer following the addition of Al Horford in the front court, the impressive performances of Jaylen Brown at Summer League and the combined age of their roster.

However, despite the improvement that will certainly make them a bigger threat in the Eastern Conference, the team to beat - behind the Cleveland Cavaliers - are still the Toronto Raptors. 

After a historic season, where they set a new franchise record for regular season wins and reached the conference finals for the first time in their history, they have made some smart moves in the offseason that will see them be an even bigger threat. 

Losing Bismack Biyombo was a big blow following their run in the playoffs, but with Lithuanian Jonas Valanciunas back, it won't hurt them too much. Bis' interior defence is superior, but JV adds another element on offence that the now-Orlando player could not bring. 

Against the Miami Heat, the European star was having a solid series, giving Hassan Whiteside numerous problems before an injury prematurely ended his series.

Adding Jared Sullinger, Pascal Siakam and Jakob Poltl means they also have better options in the forward positions after Argentine Luis Scola ended up landing in Brooklyn for a stint with the Nets. 

On the topic of defence, a fully-fit (here's hoping) DeMarre Carroll will offer them a great presence on the perimeter. Having played just 26 games in the regular season, he was influential during their historic playoff run. His influence in helping the Atlanta Hawks as they topped the east in 2015.

The dynamic of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry will be a huge factor. They are no longer playing with the demons of consistent playoff failures and should have the freedom to express themselves next season.

Playing with team USA, they will have learnt a lot from being around guys like Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant, and it can only bring good things for them. A gold medal should also give them a nice little confidence boost.

But above all else, they have the depth necessary to make a challenge in the east. All the way down to ten, they are strong, Normal Powell has the makings of a future star while Terrance Ross and Lucas Nogueira bring their own qualities.

It should be an exciting season, whether they can challenge the Cavs, well it remains to be seen, but they should make the two spot their own once again.

DeMar DeRozan
Toronto Raptors
Atlantic Division
Eastern Conference
Kyle Lowry

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