At the risk of sounding like a broken record, here's what we know: the Raptors have locked up a playoff spot and the Atlantic Division title. Surprisingly, this has been the most dispiriting division title win in franchise history. I would also wager this to be the most disappointing playoff "success" the Raptors have ever had (though that 41-41 season in 2007-08 comes in at a close second). Yes, Toronto is in the playoffs, but oof, it does not exactly feel great.
Toronto has beaten exactly one quality opponent since the All-Star break (Atlanta) to the tune of a 7-13 record over the past 20 games. During that time they've won two games consecutively only once and managed four and five game losing streaks. The Raptors have also watched their lone All-Star, Kyle Lowry, go down again with an injury.
This broken record has been smashed into a million pieces.
Meanwhile, for this week's batch of Power Rankings, our intrepid pal Marc Stein at ESPN makes a startling revelation about Lowry:
Did anyone else realize this? I suppose there have been enough games where Lowry tries to do too much in an effort to "save" the team, but damn, that's a tough label. Being in an exclusive club with Josh Smith is not a good look these days. And it probably bodes poorly for the Raps that they'll need Lowry to make any sort of mark in the playoffs.
Shuck off those bad feelings though. Here comes Matt "No Relation to Hollinger" Dollinger from SI.com;
12 - TORONTO RAPTORS
LAST WEEK: 12
RECORD: 43-30 (1-2)
Lou Williams starred in a Drake commercial last week, but he's even better when starring for the Raptors. Toronto improved to 19-7 when Lou Will scores at least 18 points last week.
Well, isn't that precious. The Raptors hold steady at #12 according to the astute minds at Sports Illustrated and Lou Williams was in a Drake commercial. That Lou stat is definitely nice, but it does not take into account all the animosity directed at Lou after yet another brutal end of quarter shot. Maybe the Ambassador should have a word.
And finally, Professor John Schuhmann of NBA.com weighs in with his invaluable analysis (for real). To wit:
15 - Toronto Raptors
Last week: 15
Pace: 95.6 (20) OffRtg: 108.0 (3) DefRtg: 105.0 (25) NetRtg: +3.1 (10)
Games against the Knicks and Lakers in the last eight days have allowed the Raptors to clinch the Atlantic Division for the second straight year, but not climb out of the bottom two in defensive efficiency in the month of March. They're on the road for most of the next two weeks, but Monday's game against the Rockets is their last against a team over .500.
As per usual, Schuhmann goes right for the jugular. "Yeah they clinched the Atlantic, but come on, they're still one of the worst defensive teams in the league!" I'll dole out a couple of kudos for his acknowledgement of the creampuff schedule the Raps have the rest of the way. Here's to easing into the playoffs!
Now, to the poll!