Playoff-bound Raps see opportunity to make impression

New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith (8) handles the ball against Toronto Raptors forward Tyler...

New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith (8) handles the ball against Toronto Raptors forward Tyler Hansbrough during the second half at Madison Square Garden Wednesday. (Jim O'Connor/USA TODAY Sports)

STEVE SIMMONS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:17 AM ET

The next two weeks will reveal much about who and what the Toronto Raptors are — and we’re not talking wins and losses here.

The Raptors have just completed their greatest of 19 seasons and still they remain a franchise not easily defined or explained. Part of it is the sport they play. Part of it is the league they play in. Part of it is the historical insignificance of the franchise.

In a town consumed by hockey minutia and everything that is the Maple Leafs, which is an historical insignificance of an entirely different kind, and in a country of seven National Hockey League franchises in which the appetite for puck conversation is endless and occasionally mind-numbing, the one Canadian team in the NBA will have home-court advantage when the playoffs open this weekend. And there is no certainty as to how any of this will be received or perceived.

“We see the moment,” said Tim Leiweke, CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.


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