It is fair to say that the Toronto Raptors have had a mixed time of things since winning the NBA championship in 2018/19.
The Raptors reached the Conference semi-finals the following season, before missing out on the play play-offs at the end of the 2021/21 campaign.
They bounced back to form this time around, posting a 48-34 record to clinch fifth spot in the Eastern Conference.
Things didn’t initially go to plan in the play-off series against the Philadelphia 76ers, with the Raptors losing the first three matches.
No team has ever overcome a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-seven play-off series in the NBA, but they are in with a chance of making history after winning the last two games.
Regardless of the outcome of the series, former NBA star Muggsy Bogues believes the Raptors can be proud of their efforts this season.
Bogues finished his illustrious playing career with the Raptors and still closely monitors their progress in the NBA.
In a recent interview with Betway Insider, the 57-year-old explained why he thinks the Raptors could pull off the impossible against the 76ers.
“No one expected Toronto to do much of anything, but the way they have performed, the emergence of their new Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes, the play of (Fred) VanVleet, another All-Star this year, and (Pascal) Siakam – those guys are competitive,” he said.
“They got championship pedigree still in that organisation, and they’re just not going to go out quietly.
“Coach Nick Nurse and his guys are warriors, they’re fighters, and they’re gonna give it all they have, in order to make sure that they’re going out swinging.”
The Raptors’ rise back up the Eastern Conference caught many people by surprise, particularly after their dismal campaign last term.
Nurse’s ability to get the best out of his players has been the key to their success, and this year’s team is undoubtedly greater than the sum of its parts.
Some respected pundits say Nurse should be in the mix to win the Coach of the Year award, and it is clearly possible to make a strong case for him.
Monty Williams (Phoenix Suns) and Taylor Jenkins (Memphis Grizzlies) are more likely winners, although they have not had to deal with the hurdles Nurse has had to face.
Having guided the Raptors to their solitary NBA title in 2019, Nurse’s unorthodox coaching style makes him the ideal man to lead them to another success.
While the odds remain stacked against the team this year, Bogues believes the Raptors have the foundations in place to be strong contenders in the future.
“Building forward and going forward, I think they feel good about themselves,” he added.
“Every team who wins that championship, people kind of give them that little cushion to get back to that throne again.
“Even though they feel like they want to be there every year, it’s tough to get back, it’s really tough to get back.
“You’ve got to continue to do your homework and put the pieces in place that you feel are going to get you back to where you ultimately want to be.”