After reflecting (for a month), I decided on a new approach to our old friend the Power Ranking Poll. Rather than focus exclusively on what Maestro Marc Stein has to say about the Raptors, we're branching out. For Week 14 of the Power Ranking Poll, we're tripling our scope. That's right, three rankings - and therefore, obviously triple the accuracy of the takes.
For this inaugural attempt, we'll give ESPN and Stein the first word:
As expected, Stein highlights the six game winning streak, the historic 30-win mark for Toronto and, ahem, the blowing of some big leads. Still, he had the Raps pegged at 13 last week, and a six spot jump is nothing to sneeze at. Sure, the Cavs are in at six, but we're all back on the Lebron bandwagon, so what can you do?
Up next, our friends from Sports Illustrated, courtesy of Matt Dollinger (which, FYI, is the name John Hollinger uses when he checks into hotels and wants to avoid the analytics groupies). To wit:
8 - Toronto Raptors
Last Week: 14
Record: 33-15 (4-0)
The Raptors have risen from their midseason hibernation to win six straight and vault up the rankings. Toronto's offense had been mysteriously absent for most of January, but the team is once again leading the NBA in offense efficiency (116.5) over its last five games.
Just a bit of bland acknowledgement here. Six wins is six wins, but none of the wins - save Washington - came against opponents worth mentioning (quite literally). Cheers to that offensive efficiency though. The Raptors are still number one at something.
And finally, here's John Schuhmann from NBA.com with some more reasonable numbers:
9 - Toronto RaptorsLast week: 12
Pace: 95.9 (18) OffRtg: 109.5 (4) DefRtg: 104.6 (21) NetRtg: +5.0 (5)
They needed overtime after blowing leads of 17-plus to both the Nets and Wizards, and they still haven't completely turned things around on defense. The Raptors have won six straight, though, to climb back into second place in the East. Lou Williams hasn't shot particularly well, but he's the team's second leading scorer (and a team-high plus-57) during the streak.
This week: vs. MIL, vs. BKN, vs. LAC, vs. SAS
Dammit John, you're right. The Raptors still feel shaky on defense (with the cries for James Johnson not getting any quieter). Toronto's offense has been all over the place the past week but it doesn't feel exactly good to be in a ride-or-die situation with Lou Williams all the time. Still a six game win streak is no joke, and winning a run of four games in five nights is downright amazing. And hey, unlike SI and ESPN, John ranked the Cavs behind the Raps. Maybe things are looking up.
Let's go to the (new) poll! What do you guys think?