Once you've won six NBA titles in the span of eight seasons, it's fair to say you know a thing or two about what it takes to be a champion.
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On Monday's episode of The Jump, Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen expressed his belief in the defending champs, saying "if you think any team feels the confidence to even win a championship, it probably will be the Toronto Raptors."
Pippen, along with host Rachel Nichols and panellist Brian Windhorst, were discussing the potential advantages that the Raptors might gain from convening in their own bubble in Fort Myers, Florida, where their veteran big man Serge Ibaka has been impressed by the team.
IBAKA: "Mentally, I think we're ready"
Pippen continued his praise of the Raptors, supporting his assertion by stating that "they had been playing good basketball before the break, I'm sure they still feel the confidence that they can get out of the Eastern Conference, so, they're still pretty much on a high horse."
Before the season came to a halt on March 11, the Raptors had won four straight games, good for the longest active win streak in the NBA. At 46-18, Toronto has built a three-game lead over the Boston Celtics for the East's No. 2 seed and will look to hold onto its post once the season resumes at the end of July.
Last season, the second-seeded Raptors were led to their first-ever NBA title thanks largely in part to the efforts of Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard. While Leonard looks to lead the LA Clippers to their first-ever title, Toronto has an All-Star duo of Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam that look to lead the charge in pursuit of a repeat. Undoubtedly, Pippen believes that's enough to get this team out of the Eastern Conference for a second-straight season: "I'm not gonna knock them for losing Kawhi but I think this team still has a lot of confidence and believe that they can get back to the Finals."
The Raptors, who will travel from Fort Myers to Orlando on July 9, are first back in action when they take on the Houston Rockets in a restart scrimmage on Friday, July 24. Toronto plays its first of eight "seeding" games on Saturday, Aug. 1 when it faces the Los Angeles Lakers.
The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.