If I asked you what the biggest positive from this Toronto Raptors season was, what would your answer be?
Would you have one?
Others, maybe that after six long seasons, the wool is finally coming off the eyes of fans (and apparently management) regarding Andrea Bargnani.
But that the team has a .355 winning percentage at the end of 2012?
And yet, after last night's evisceration of the Orlando Magic, that's Toronto's mark, and it indeed represents a very positive data point compared to the same percentage just two weeks ago.
It's also a mark that means the Dinos are suddenly within sight of...
...a playoff spot.
The fact that Toronto sits four games back of a playoff position in the East speaks more to the quality of Eastern Conference clubs perhaps than is an indictment of the Raptors' recent turnaround, but could be taken as an encouraging sign none-the-less.
After all, the team has won seven of their last 10 games, putting them on par with the Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, Atlanta Hawks, and Milwaukee Bucks, the select teams in the East who have put together the same record of late. In their domination of Orlando last night, the Raptors announcers noted that this was the team Bryan Colangelo had always imagined, sending wave after wave of players into games, able to do damage to opponents in a myriad of fashions.
In fact, as Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus noted on Twitter late last night, the Raptors have the best offence in the league over the past two weeks!
The defence for the most part has been fairly solid as well, the club has even moved out of the league's basement and is 24th in defensive efficiency.
So suddenly we have a Toronto team that enters the new year on a major roll, winning the bulk of its matches of late, taking advantage of an easier schedule (league's fourth-easiest over that same span), and also getting some key players back in the rotation (welcome back Landry Fields!) The club's next six games are at home, and besides a match against OKC, the rest on paper look to be quite winnable.
It all ads up to perhaps a nice little run here, one that truly gets the club back in the playoff mix.
We'll leave the "is that actually a good thing, the playoffs," debate for another day but suffice to say that it's nice to see this team finally have a bit of success. Most fans outside of the site that I know had shut the team down for the season in terms of interest, and it's hard to blame them. The team had been so bad for so long, that the early season malaise, especially in contrast to the pre-season hype the Raptors had created, killed off what little goodwill they had left.
Perhaps this recent stretch, and hopefully the month of January, renews said interest.
There are still some huge potential pitfalls lurking ahead (Bargnani's return, the Lowry/Calderon PG situation etc), but let's take this occasion to sit back and enjoy the team's recent success.
After all, it's not like it's something we as fans have been able to do much of these past few years...