Since the drubbing they dished out to the Atlanta Hawks, the Raptors have largely been a mess since late February. They've beaten only one team in nine games - the Philadelphia 76ers, a team actively trying to lose. They've gone through disheartening losses to the Cavaliers, the Andrea Bargnani-led Knicks, and once again to their eternal nemesis, the Charlotte Hornets. Their net rating continues to plummet. Meanwhile at Raptors Republic, Tim Chisholm is openly questioning why we should even care about the rest of the season.
Things have gone to a very dark place. And as you can imagine, this week's Power Ranking Poll reflects this.
Our former champion, ESPN's Marc Stein, feels our pain:
There's no other comment to even make here. The Raptors have slid down to 14 in Stein's eyes, and looking at his bit of win/loss accounting there, it's clear it pains him to admit it.
Our man Matt Dollinger at SI.com meanwhile points out two terrifying truths about the Raptors. Can you catch both?
14 - Toronto RaptorsLAST WEEK: 12
RECORD: 38-25 (1-3)
Drake's diary likely has a lot of sad Raptors entries of late. Toronto has lost eight of its last nine games and slipped to No. 4 in the East. Making matters worse: The Raptors are dead last in defensive rating (107.8) over that span, giving us reason to believe this is more than just a rough patch in the regular season.
First, the Raptors have somehow fallen to the bottom (the bottom!) in defensive rating over their last nine games. That's the easy one. But second, the Raptors are now 2-8 since Drake released his latest mixtape, If You're Reading This It's Too Late.
In that Drake-spirit, allow me this: starting from the bottom of this particular defensive stat is not something any team should do this late in the season. Can the Raps still turn it around? Well... if you're playing this way, it's too late.
We need some John Schuhmann numbers from NBA.com to get us back on track. What ya got, John?
14 - Toronto (38-25)
Last week: 12
Pace: 95.9 (18) OffRtg: 107.7 (3) DefRtg: 104.4 (22) NetRtg: +3.4 (9)
The Raptors have got DeMar DeRozan (28.5 points on 52 percent shooting in four games last week) going, but have still lost eight of their last nine games because their defense has taken another step backward. With Washington and Milwaukee struggling, however, they still have a three-game edge for home-court advantage in the first round.
This is about as good as it can get. The Raptors net rating is hanging in there at +3.4 (good for ninth in the league). And somehow, DeMar DeRozan has averaged 28.5 points a game on +50 percent shooting. This latter stat feels particularly impossible given DeRozan's recent penchant for jacking shots, but Raptors fans will take what they can get right now.
The Raptors still cling to an overall record of 38-25, which remains good for fourth in the East. It's as far as they can actually fall this season given the trash fire that is the rest of the Atlantic Division. Homecourt advantage is a lock, but still, despair hangs heavy. Those visions of a 50-win season, of a first round playoff victory, of goddamn championship odds, continue to drift further and further away.
Let's try to keep it together in the poll. Share your feelings in the Comments. This is a safe space.