No offense to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, but the Eastern Conference hasn't exactly posed much of a threat to the Warriors in the NBA Finals during the last two title bouts.
But maybe that won't be the case this year.
With James heading to the Lakers last summer, the East is wide open for the first time in eight seasons and there are a number of teams that have the talent to win the conference and take on the Dubs in the NBA Finals should the Warriors get through the Western Conference gauntlet again. (They will.)
The Bucks, Raptors, 76ers and Celtics all could give Steph Curry and Co. issues in a potential NBA Finals matchup, but Warriors legend Tim Hardaway told 95.7 The Game's "Jo, Lo, and Dibs" on Wednesday that he believes one of those teams can present real issues for the Dubs with a title on the line.
"You know, I'm still going back and forth with who is the better matchup with the Dubs," Hardaway said. "You know, you got Toronto, they played the Dubs very well without Kawhi Leonard. You know, they came in here to Golden State and just beat them up, you know, without Kawhi Leonard. You've got the 76ers, you know, they still trying to find they way. I don't think they are quite ready for the Dubs. Somebody like Boston, I think if they get to that point they understand how to beat the Dubs. I think they understand what they need to do and if they get to that position because they got a long way to go. After they won three of four games out west, they went back home and are going through the same stuff they've been going through. So, you know, it's going to be kind of tough for them.
"But I still feel that Toronto is probably the best team that could come out the East to play against Golden State and give them a run for their money. You know, they have the size, they have the athleticism, they can switch out on guards and they can score the basketball. So I think that team -- same way with Boston, but I don't think Boston has found they rhythm yet. I still think they are looking for they identity, still looking for who is going to do what, how are they going to do it, but I think Toronto is right there. So that's the team out of the East that can give Golden State a run for their money."
Toronto has looked like a true title contender in what could be the only year of the Kawhi era. The arrival of the 2014 NBA Finals MVP coupled with the emergence of Pascal Siakam and the acquisition of Marc Gasol has made the Raptors a force to be reckoned with.
The Raptors defeated the Warriors in both games during the regular season with Curry and Leonard each missing one of the contests. Toronto has the versatility, athleticism, veteran experience and star power to give the Warriors problems with everything on the line.
The Raptors will have to get through a different looking Eastern Conference in order to bring the defending champs north to battle for the Larry O'Brien Trophy, but if they do it'll set up a Finals matchup that Hardaway believes would be quite the test for the Dubs.
Many have taken their shot at the Warriors since Kevin Durant's arrival and none have succeeded in knocking them off their throne. Should the Raptors make it to the championship round, chances are they'll suffer the same fate their ferocious mascot did when an asteroid struck the planet 65 million years ago -- extinction.
Best of luck.