It’s been a long road toward gaining respect for the Toronto Raptors.

After being sent home in the first round two straight seasons, the Raptors made it to the Eastern Conference finals last year before losing to the eventual champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

That’s not enough to make Boston Celtics forward Jae Crowder fear you.

Via Tom Westerholm of

“I think our ceiling is the Eastern Conference finals,” he said. “Toronto is not a team we’re worried about. I think Cleveland is the top team. That’s what it comes down to.”

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The Celtics are coming off a season in which they won 48 games, improving by eight from the year before. They were able to hang with some of the best teams in the league during the regular season, and with so much young talent, many project they’ll take another leap next season.

The Cavs are clearly the kings of the East with a big gap between them and whichever team is second. Toronto established itself as that team last year, but despite a trip to the conference finals, they had some shaky moments during the playoffs that resulted in them losing the kind of respect they deserve.

The Raptors will still be in the mix as one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference next season. The Celtics are coming for them, though. The addition of Al Horford may be enough to put them over the top and in position to challenge for one of the top seeds.

When Toronto and Boston meet in the regular season, pay closer attention. Players don’t forget when they get called out like this.

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