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Views From The 6: Assessing Regular Season Results

The team is off to an 11-2 start, which is amazing. Yes, we should enjoy this.

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

A personal note: I've been on vacation the past two weeks in a different time zone, so my Raptors viewing has consisted of waking up at seven in the morning, catching highlight clips and scrolling Twitter for reactions.

I had a chance to watch the Cavs-Raptors on replay yesterday and I have to say: it's really fun to watch your team fall down 10-0 when you have knowledge of what the final score is going to be. You should all try it once.

The Raptors are 11-2. And I'm not sure if I want to tell any fan to act like they've been here before, because have we? The team finally feels relevant, and in terms of a week filled with moments, it's hard to top the one we just had that included the start of a reconciliation with Vince Carter (for the record: I'm totally for it), BRUNO! and of course, the comeback win in Cleveland.

I'm not trying to crash the party here, or sound like I saw this coming, but I'm not entirely surprised by this start. Not when you consider the schedule, it was important for this team to get off to this type of start before the list of opponents got tougher and the home-heavy schedule gave way to road games and Western Conference road trips.

I've been thinking about some simple way to assess regular season results, and of course, this is different for everyone, but to me, every game result falls into four different categories:

  1. Winning a game you're expecting to win
  2. Winning a game you're not expecting to win
  3. Losing a game you're expecting to lose
  4. Losing a game you're expecting to win
The great regular season teams take care of the first type of game result, fill up the second category and avoid the fourth. That's the formula for a 50-plus win team. At 11-2, the Raptors have to go 39-30 the rest of the way to get to 50 wins, which would be a first for this franchise. Again, I hate these types of projections because it never takes into account the forever changing ebb and flow of the regular season, where teams will get better or worst, and fortunes can change in a hurry with one injury.

But if you look at the schedule so far, 13 games with just four on the road. I count nine games where we were expected to win: vs. Atlanta, at Orlando, vs. Oklahoma City (without Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook), at Boston, vs. Philadelphia, vs. Orlando, vs. Utah, vs. Memphis (against a very shorthanded Grizzlies team) and vs. Milwaukee.

We've gone 9-0 in games where we were expected to take care of business. Not all of them have been pretty. The home games against the Thunder and Magic come to mind along with a close road win at the Celtics. The Raptors had to overcome slow starts to eventually pull it out. But still, not letting any of these nine games slip through have put the Raptors in this position where they can start thinking about building on this start and try to see if they can position themselves for (gulp) the top seed in the East.

It's still entirely too early to look at the standings, well, I'm still looking, so maybe the correct phrase is: it's too early to draw conclusions from the standings today. The Cavs won't be below .500 forever, the Bulls are better than 8-5, the Wizards are really good and just got Bradley Beal back this week.

But we're six games clear of second place in the Atlantic Division and we're in the conversation. That's great. This is amazing right now. And we should absolutely enjoy the run. It's going to get bumpy at times I'm sure, but having a team with real expectations? That's the best feeling you can get in the regular season.