Are the Raptors the Real Deal? Kevin Durant Warns NBA Toronto 'is Here'

Throughout the first two months of the season, the Toronto Raptors have forced rivals across the NBA to sit up and take notice.

Kevin Durant has certainly done so and was clearly impressed by the way the Raptors brushed the Golden State Warriors aside for a second time in less than two weeks.

Read more: NBA team employee turns down $100,000 offer for LeBron James' game-worn shoes

Kawhi Leonard's absence did not stop Toronto from securing a 113-93 win at the Oracle Arena on Wednesday night, stopping the Warriors' winning streak to four games. The win improved the Raptors record to 23-7 and they now lead the Eastern Conference with a 3.5-game margin over the Milwaukee Bucks, while the Warriors slipped to 19-10 and are second in the Western Conference.

Kyle Lowry top scored for the Raptors with 23 points and added 12 assists, while Serge Ibaka had 20 points and 12 rebounds.

"They have champions over there," Durant said in the post-game press conference, as reported by ESPN.

“Danny [Green] and Kawhi [Leonard]. They also have guys like Serge [Ibaka] and Kyle [Lowry] and Jonas [Valanciunas]. They got a great mix of veteran and young players. They got a new coach, but the leaders of that team have been through some wars. ”

The Raptors finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference last season but were swept in the conference semifinals by the Cleveland Cavaliers for the second consecutive year.

Two months later, the Raptors traded star guard DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first round pick to the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for Leonard and Green. The gamble has handsomely paid off so far, as the former has rediscovered the form that had made him one of the best defensive players in the league, despite the fact he had last played for the Spurs in January.

With LeBron James moving to Los Angeles, the dynamics in the Eastern Conference have shifted dramatically but the two teams – the Philadelphia 76ers and the Boston Celtics – who were expected to establish themselves as the powerhouses of the conference have so far failed to do so.

Durant, who had 30 points, seven rebounds and five assists dismissed the suggestion the Raptors might need to bide their time before launching a title bid, insisting they were ready to win this season.

“I wouldn't call them a young team or say them beating us two times is going to give them extra confidence,” he added.

“They've been ballin' before that, and they're going to be ballin' after they beat us. So they're not an up-and-coming team. They're here."

Stephen Curry also acknowledged the Raptors were a real threat.

"They have a little bit of everything," he said. "Athletic wings and bigs that can shoot 3s and put the ball on the floor. We know Kyle Lowry is a great player. Obviously, when Kawhi plays we know what he's about, but just pretty well-rounded, and they've shown different styles to win games. Tonight, they were obviously the better team and everybody seemed to have confidence and was playing off each other really well. “

Before the win on Wednesday night, the Raptors had lost 13 straight games in Oakland which, according to ESPN Stats & Information, was the longest road losing streak against a single opponent in their history.

Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors
Kyle Lowry #7 of the Toronto Raptors reacts after Greg Monroe #15 made a basket against the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena on December 12 in Oakland, California. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images