The Toronto Raptors have a two-week headstart against all other 21 teams that are set to fly in the bubble in the next few days.
All 21 teams are set to fly to Florida this week to begin their 14-day quarantine. As soon as it is lifted, they will begin their training camps and scrimmage games. Meanwhile, the remaining 8 teams that will not join the bubble will reportedly have their own mini-bubble elsewhere.
The majority of the players that will join the bubble will just be flying in from different parts of the U.S. This isn’t the case for the Toronto Raptors from Canada. As such, they have been given the clearance to fly in earlier. In fact, they have been in Fort Meyers for two weeks already.
Toronto Raptors advantage
While other teams are just about to fly in Florida, the Raptors are already in tiptop shape and ready for battle. According to their veteran center Serge Ibaka,
“I saw just how everyone is in great shape. they came here in great shape and as soon as we got here everyone was starting to put in work.”
He added, that his long stint in the NBA has taught him to look out for one thing. He added,
“I’ve been in the league for 11 years. you can see when people’s locked in and they are ready mentally, and when they are not. so i can tell you right now, mentally, everybody is ready.”
Having a two-week headstart is a big advantage for Raptors. In two weeks, they can rebuild their chemistry, forge stronger bonds, and settle in the new environment better. It remains to be seen how they will be able to defend their title.
Still the underdogs
The Raptors remain to be outside of the NBA championship conversation. The top teams being favored to win it all are the Lakers, Clippers, Bucks, and the Celtics. Be that as it may, the Raptors are sitting comfortably on the second spot in the East. If the Playoffs started today, they’d be facing the handicapped Brooklyn Nets, which they will just most likely clobber.
Outside of Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, the Raptors were able to keep their core intact. They still have veterans, Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol, and Serge Ibaka leading the team. Pascal Siakam who is a rising superstar has nicely filled the void that Leonard left.
The Raptors roster has been struggling this year health-wise. Fortunately, the three months of lockdown has helped the team regain its health in full strength. It will be interesting to see how they will defend their crown against rising powerhouses in the East with the Bucks and Celtics.
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