Report: Toronto Raptors believe they’re essentially on same level as Miami Heat

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The Miami Heat have been to the NBA Finals twice since the Toronto Raptors last won a championship, including last season, when the Raptors didn’t even make the playoffs.

Yet that hasn’t stopped the NBA’s Canadian franchise from thinking it is able to compete with the Heat or anyone else in the Eastern Conference for that matter.

Sportsnet’s Michael Grange reported the Raptors aren’t considering a rebuild and instead are ready to take aim at the Heat, New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics.

“Breaking things up and selling them off for parts has never been seriously entertained in private conversations I’ve had,” wrote Grange. “Publicly the stance hasn’t been all that different. The Raptors don’t see themselves as all that inferior — if at all — to the Miami Heat, who have made the NBA Finals two of the last four seasons. The ‘lowly’ Knicks made the second round this year, and the Sixers, Bucks — and even the Celtics — have proven themselves beatable in the right circumstances.”

Toronto hasn’t even won a playoff series since 2020, so it’s hard to see where the confidence is coming from after a 41-41 2022-23 season that ended with a play-in loss to the Chicago Bulls.

Miami, on the other hand, defeated Chicago in a play-in game, entered the playoffs and stormed all the way to the NBA Finals, where it lost to the Denver Nuggets in five games.

The Heat have made it to the Eastern Conference Finals three times in the last four seasons and lost the NBA Finals in 2020 to the Los Angeles Lakers. Miami finished just three games better than Toronto last season at 44-38, but that gap looks like it might get wider as the Heat could be very aggressive during the offseason.

Miami did lose out on Bradley Beal when the Washington Wizards agreed to trade the high-scoring guard to the Phoenix Suns. The Heat’s revamped plans could include a stronger pursuit of Damian Lillard, with Jimmy Butler reportedly trying to recruit the Portland Trail Blazers star. The Heat also could have interest in Draymond Green, who opted out of his contract with the Golden State Warriors.

Even without a high-profile acquisition, the Heat seem to be on solid ground with Butler and Bam Adebayo leading the lineup surrounded by complementary role players who grew considerably during the playoffs. Caleb Martin is a valuable asset, and Miami has decisions to make on Max Strus and Gabe Vincent.

That seems to be a far better situation than the one the Raptors are facing, with new head coach Darko Rajakovic replacing the fired Nick Nurse and unknown futures for key players O.G. Anunoby, Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet.

It seems the Raptors should be focused more on just getting back to the playoffs rather than comparing themselves to the Heat and other top teams in the conference.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. His introduction to the business included the legendary Heat-Knicks rivalry from the 1990s.