Are the Toronto Raptors a Playoff Contender? Is Toronto a Playoff Contender?

The question is an honest one, but everyone must understand that it comes with conditions. It comes with a psyche that is wrapped in a riddle, that shouts at enigmas.

“Are the Toronto Raptors a playoff team?”

In all honesty, that question says more about the city, or the franchise, than it does about the Raptors’ playoffs or the game they play. With additions and right turns, the Raptors are unquestionably on a better track entering 2013 than they were 12 months ago. They’ve moved on from an ugly Bosh ending to one that features Kyle Lowry, a stud Washington Husky draft pick, and an actually kind of Andrea Bargnani. Factor in the necessary skills of DeMar DeRozan, and the Raptors aren’t as terrible on paper as history and common sense says they will always be.

And, of course, there’s Jonas Valanciunas.

But, the Raptors have baggage. It’s shaped like the City of Toronto, and it’s a flight risk.

Hope is not a strategy, and Toronto is the home of not one single successful professional sports franchise, at the moment.

It’s bewildering, especially since Canada’s unofficial capital city is such a great town for anything featuring a ball, puck, or beer. But, it’s a defeatist town. In 2012, it sure is. The Raptors have to deal with the same thing that teams like them – the Clippers, the Cleveland Browns, the Columbus Blue Jackets, or the Chicago Cubs – have to. When they wake up, they’re still the Toronto Raptors.

And, of course, there’s Jonas Valanciunas.

Impotence isn’t just a characterization, it’s a forgone conclusion.

Toronto has been buried so far below the dirt, the light isn’t even visible. They don’t even know what they’re supposed to be looking for. Leafs fans cheer, “Let’s go Blue Jays!” Blue Jays fans cheer, “Let’s go Raptors!”

Raptors fans?

Hell, cue the Argos cheers. We never thought we’d see the day.

The Raptors, in any other place, would make the best of a younger, faster, and more energetic roster. But, right now, Toronto is just waiting for Jesus to return from behind the rock. They’re waiting for a miracle. They’re hoping something goes right. They’re hoping something crystalizes. They’re hoping it just all falls into place.

History says it’s a possibility. History also says it’s high hoping.

History is a jerk and, in Toronto, it’s downright cruel.