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NBA insiders believe Toronto poses biggest threat to Warriors

Kawhi Leonard, Raptors, Stephen Curry, Warriors

Executives, scouts and assistant coaches around the NBA believe the Toronto Raptors are the team best equipped to challenge the Golden State Warriors for the 2019 championship.

The Raptors, led by star small forward Kawhi Leonard and All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry, have the best record in the NBA entering Wednesday at 31-12.

Toronto has a top-10 offense and defense, as they are averaging 113.2 points per game (seventh in the NBA) and giving up 107.9 points (ninth in the NBA).

Via Jordan Brenner of The Atheltic:

The Raptors were the runaway choice as the top team to challenge the Warriors, and it’s easy to see why. Says a Western Conference scout, “they have depth and versatility with an elite two-way player.”

They’re built to defend the Warriors, given their mobile bigs (Serge Ibaka, Pascal Siakam and—when they go small—Kawhi Leonard) and gaggle of tough-minded guards. It’s also unlikely that they will make any significant personnel changes by the deadline, especially since, as a longtime exec says, “it’s very hard to make a move at midseason and have it gel in time to beat the Warriors.”

The Raptors have never advanced to the NBA Finals, but they have a really good shot at doing it this season.

Leonard is playing like an MVP, as the two-time Defensive Player of the Year is averaging 27.3 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists. A seven-game series in the Finals of Leonard guarding Warriors superstar Kevin Durant would be basketball heaven for hoop fanatics.

The Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers are the other teams in the East that many believe could take down the Raptors in the Eastern Conference playoffs, but as of right now, the East is Toronto’s to lose.