Most NBA games don’t involve the Toronto Raptors, but that doesn’t mean they don’t matter. What teams should a rational Raptors fan be cheering for/against?
There are 82 Toronto Raptors games this season. 82 times to cheer on your favorite team. 82 chances for a win (well 77 remaining). But what if that just isn’t enough? What happens when the Raptors have an off-night, or even worse, a stretch of off-nights? Well, rather than finding another hobby, — a dumb idea to even mention I know — there are 29 other NBA teams to watch!
And in those games, it’s fun to have a rooting interest. Because the truth is, it’s not just the Raptors games that actually impact the Raptors. In fact, there are reasons to cheer for or against multiple teams across the NBA. The outcome of numerous franchises will have an effect on the city of Toronto.
With no draft picks from opponents incoming, Masai Ujiri and company have nothing to worry about in that regard. However, there is still plenty to watch that could impact both free agency and this team’s draft capital.
Cheer against: The Milwaukee Bucks
There is the obvious reasons that the Toronto Raptors are competing with the Bucks to come out of the East. But Raptors fans’ incentives run much deeper than that. Toronto not only has its eye set on winning the East this year, but they also are watching everything that happens with Giannis Antetokounmpo.
There have been multiple reports Giannis is looking for a Finals appearance sometime during the next two years. And if the Bucks don’t find a way to get there, he may be open to exploring his options.
There has been both speculation and reports about the Raptors’ interest in Giannis due to Antetokounmpo’s connection with Masai Ujiri. As you probably know by now, Ujiri helped Giannis immigrate to Greece and is partially responsible for the “Greek Freeks” rise to prominence (and nickname).
If he does open up his recruitment, Toronto feels like the frontrunner. That’s why the Raptors need to hope he hears their pitch.
Cheer for kinda: Philadelphia 76ers
That means, and yes you can do so begrudgingly, Raptors fans should be cheering for the Philadelphia 76ers to some extent. The 76ers and Bucks are the current co-favorites to win the Eastern Conference. If one of them were to win it, the Raptors should be cheering for the former.
Again, you only have to kind-of cheer for them.
Cheer for: The Pistons, Grizzlies, Mavs, Spurs, and Wizards
We are a pro-former Raptors website here at Raptors Rapture. That means we cheer for the players and personnel that helped build the franchise to what it is today.
Bless their heart, Dwane Casey and DeMar DeRozan didn’t win a ring. But they did take over a hapless, directionless franchise and gave it life. They weren’t the guys need to finish the job, but their efforts shouldn’t be overlooked. — This also applies to Jakob Poeltl, to a much lesser extent.
Delon Wright, C.J. Miles, and Jonas Valanciunas were blood sacrifices required to obtain Marc Gasol. They’ll technically be awarded a ring, but they can’t feel great about it. They helped, sure, in the way pawns help brooks and knights win chess matches. Their success won’t impact Toronto in any way, but it’s nice to root for familiar faces.
Cheer against: The Miami Heat and Boston Celtics
This one is obvious. The two teams who look to be Toronto’s biggest threat for the 3-seed are the 3-1 Miami Heat and 3-1 Boston Celtics. They sit alongside the Raptors in teams that are not only talented but have a baseline of competence that you trust. Both teams have talented coaches and the depth you need to survive an 82-game season. The battle for the 3-seed should be a slugfest.
Los Angeles Clippers:
Just kidding. I’m not going to tell you how to feel on this one. That’s your decision.