Marc Gasol and the Raptors present their candidacy

The team has managed to carve out just in time for the playoffs while the Spanish center has managed to adapt the team definitively.


If we review the template of the Toronto Raptors player to player we are talking about a template that would be a candidate for the ring in almost any season of the American League. They have everything. Veteran players and in good shape (Marc) with others who are, (theoretically) at the zenith of their career (Leonard or Lowry), people with playoff experience (Danny Green), good defenders (Ibaka), members that can do a lot of damage coming from the bench (ValVleet or Jodie Meeks) and surprises that have exploded in the current season (Siakam) .

It is a franchise that has found the balance that is traditionally necessary to reach far in the playoffs. Your star, Leonard, attacks well, defends even better and would be a good option to play the last shot in a match for the title. With his arrival, Lowry has taken a weight off and has handled the fact that he has fewer responsibilities. Meanwhile, the rest of the group has assumed its role in a franchise where the amount of 'roosters' that sometimes makes this process difficult. It has cost them, but it seems that, little by little, things start to work in Canada.

Since the team that we are seeing has been definitively established, the team trained by Nick Nurse has played 25 matches (if we count from the debut of Marc), in which they have added 17 wins and 8 defeats. They began irregular, with 8-4 in the first 12 duels and without convincing, but then they have added a record of 9-4, that although it is similar to the previous one, has cleared doubts and has allowed to see a much more solid team on track , able to overcome 100 points easily or to solve the tight ends, where only the miracles of Jeremy Lamb with the Hornets have been able to with them.

In addition, during this record they have reached 5 consecutive victories, and have 6 in the last seven duels. Now they are with a record of 57-24 (they have only one game left), very close to the 59-23 they got last year with Dwayne Casey on the benches. In Toronto have with this record the second best in the NBA just behind the Bucks and ahead of Warriors, Nuggets or Houston. In addition, have the third best Eastern attack (114'4 points per game) and the sixth best of the entire league tied with the Thunder, and leave their rivals in a not inconsiderable 108'5 points per game. They are the third best team in the league at home (32-9) and also the third best outside (25-15, they still need to play in Minnesota), a very important data for the playoffs.

Marc also improves

Marc Gasol has also improved. And he has done as he knows, without highlighting in the main categories, but leading his team in the intangibles. The center has slightly increased its numbers and in the last 13 duels averages more points than before (9.3 for the 8.9 of the first 12 games), more rebounds (7.1 by 6.2) and more assists (4 , 4 by 3.6), in addition to being a starter in the last 13 contested matches, establishing himself in the initial quintet in a definitive manner.

But the real impact of Marc is in those things to which the average amateur makes less case. If we take as reference the last 14 games, Spanish is the best player of the Raptors in statistics +/- (accumulates +13.7), taking into account also that no other teammate reaches +10. And all this by throwing only 6 times per game in a team where the roles are much more distributed than in his time in Memphis. Also is the best offensive and defensive rating on his team. The intangibles have always been dominated by Sant Boi and have always been the statistics that have forged their reputation in the league and that gave him in his day the award for Best Defender of the Year. He already warned that his adaptation to the team was being good and he is demonstrating it.

Will they give with the key in the playoffs?

It is clear that the Raptors have presented their candidacy, but now it remains to know if in the post season they will manage to maintain the level. In recent years has been the pending issue of the Canadian franchise, which since has achieved two first rounds and two semifinals with a conference final as a cap between in which they opened the doors to hope and where they won two games The Cavs of James. The sweep last year against LeBron himself left them without a coach, but many times a change in the bench helps to make the leap of quality necessary to fight for the ring and this could be the case this season.

Hay to give credit to Nick Nurse, who has managed to maintain the level and get the best out of Leonard, also rationing the breaks. Also to the directive that was known to move in summer and Februaryor to strengthen the team. And of course the players, who will have their final exam in the playoffs. It is possible that when they least talk about them is when they are best playing in Canada. Ibaka said: "We have equipment to fight for the ring" . Let's see if they finally do it.



Photos from as.com

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