clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Can The Raptors Take Advantage Of The Upcoming Schedule Before A Very Difficult Road Trip?

New, comments

The upcoming six-game stretch provides an opportunity for the team to make another push in the standings.

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

After a 13-2 start to the season, the Raptors have cooled off considerably of late. Their defense has been a concern, and something Dwane Casey focused on in practice this weekend. In their previous six games, in which they've gone 3-3, the team has allowed 114.0 points per 100 possessions, a defensive rating that is almost three points worst than what the Lakers' league worst defense have allowed this season.

The DeMar DeRozan injury has not exactly destroyed the offense. In the six full games without their starting shooting guard, the Raptors have scored 114.4 points per 100 possessions, and are still second in the league behind Dallas in offensive rating.

In DeRozan's absence, the Raptors are attempting 22.5 free throws per game, but stretches like the fourth quarter against Cleveland on Tuesday when the team didn't go to the line and only scored 13 points shows how valuable DeRozan's ability to get to the basket can be, and has a trickle down effect on the rest of the team, and getting the opponent into the penalty earlier in the quarter.

Despite the concerns, the Raptors are still well ahead in the Atlantic Division. Brooklyn is in second place at the moment, but are 8-11, and have reportedly made Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson available in trade talks. The Sixers have no intentions of competing for anything this season. The Celtics have been surprisingly entertaining but it would be hard to see them even finish above .500. And the Knicks. Well, there's this.

In the race for top seed in the East, Atlanta, Washington, Cleveland and Chicago are creeping closer to the Raptors in the standings. Although I'm not sure if a top seed was a realistic goal with or without DeRozan's injury.

But the next six games in the schedule does afford the Raptors an opportunity to make another push in the standings. Here they are:

  • vs. Indiana
  • at New York
  • vs. Orlando
  • vs. Brooklyn
  • at Detroit
  • vs. New York
It's not inconceivable to think the Raptors can go 6-0 during this stretch, and the most optimistic side of me thinks it's possible. But even a 5-1 stretch would put this team at 21-7, and they'll need all these wins, because after this stretch, the team goes on a six-game road trip that I've been dreading for a few weeks now. The games:

  • at Chicago
  • at Los Angeles Clippers
  • at Denver
  • at Portland
  • at Golden State
  • at Phoenix
As optimistic I was about the upcoming six games, it's not inconceivable to think the team could go 1-5 on this road trip. There are a lot of strong teams in there, add in the fact the team will be traveling through the Christmas holidays and New Years.

So, if we're slotting wins and losses based on the schedule, this upcoming six game stretch is pretty important, especially because of what comes after.

What do you think?