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When you finish the season with a 59-23 record and with the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, you expect a deep playoff run. Led by two all-stars Demar Derozan and Kyle Lowry, the Toronto Raptors were expected to finally exorcise their past playoff demons, and this was the year they would be taken seriously among NBA circles. This was the season they were expected to arrive.

Deep, young, athletic, and hungry Raptors team was finally going to give Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers fits. Even though Cleveland was vastly the more experienced team, Toronto would have their way due to their athleticism. Raptors proved last night that they are still those Raptors of old. They were outclassed 128-93 on Monday May 8th and swept for the second straight playoffs against Cleveland. The Raptors were never truly on the same playing field as the Cavs. Sure, having Lebron helps, (34.0 pts, 11.3 assists, 8.3 rebounds in the series), but his supporting cast also played great basketball throughout the series.

Watching the series, it feels like the Raptors missed a great chance to finally make the franchise’s first finals appearance. Cavs looked vulnerable and old and were ripe for the picking. With this team currently as constructed, you can say it has reached its ceiling and can’t get any better from here. Next year Philadelphia and Boston will be ~a~ major factors in the east with their all-stars, Milwaukee, Indiana and Washington will re-tool the roster and add the pieces necessary to compete long term.

Toronto proved they lacked the star power and championship poise to truly be an NBA title contender. You get the feeling that Kyle Lowry and Demar Derozan are not the players who strike fear into the hearts of the NBA elite. Both have proven they can lead you to great regular seasons, but when it matters most they can’t morph into clutch play making superstars they are paid to be.

Raptors may want to visit a trade for Kawhi Leonard or a risky signing of Demarcus Cousins. A third star maybe what the doctor orders for this Raptor team. One of those guys would allow Derozan to slide into a second option that better suits his game and demeanor. Leonard or Cousins would allow him to play more freely and not have the burden of the superstar status his contract (3 more years at $27.7 mil per year) says he is.

Raptors have a solid nucleus of talent on the team, but to go deep and compete with the NBA titans, they must add one more star to help Demar and Kyle. This 2017/2018 season was their best chance to appear in the NBA finals. Without an additional elite piece, this team won’t go far and will claim also-ran status for the foreseeable future. Next year they might be the 4th or 5th best team in the east with no chance. What a missed opportunity.

This article was originally published on pdmsports