What a week, am I right folks? The Raptors have gone 1-3 since last we spoke, losing games to Cleveland, Golden State and, sigh, Sacramento. (One of these things is not like the other...) The team’s lone win came in overtime against a troublesome Denver Nuggets squad. It’s been a rough time, is my point. And while it would be foolhardy to just write the Raptors off, as a fanbase we’re not feeling so hot right now.
So, where is an irate and/or sad fan supposed to turn when things are going against the Raptors? As always, I preach the wisdom of perspective. As this week’s power rankings suggest, Toronto is still in the mix. Sure, they’ve hit some setbacks recently, and this insane road trip they’re on right now is not even half over, but all things considered: we should be good.
Also, an added bonus for this week: we get to figure out which of our favourite power rankers wrote their blurb before last night’s nightmare in Sacramento. Let’s read these together and decide!
First up, the man no one would ever accuse of dogging it, Marc Stein of ESPN. What’s he saying?
2016-17 record: 8-5
Previous ranking: 4
Rough weekend for DeMar DeRozan. The mere 12 points he mustered in Sunday night's heartbreaking (and controversial) loss in Sacramento knocked him out of the league's scoring lead for the first time in 20 days. Now, on the second night of a back-to-back, DeRozan has to deal with the league's most-feared defense. He'll be trying to join Chicago's Dwyane Wade on this season's short list of starting shooting guards to crack the 20-point plateau against the Clippers.
As expected, Stein is honest and on time. He’s chosen to rightly focus on DeRozan’s disastrous game on Sunday, while looking ahead to more troubles on the horizon. This universe where the Clippers are a fearsome defensive team is odd.
How about the young gun Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated; he’s a man known to be largely inoffensive, right?
5. Toronto Raptors (8–5)
Last Week: 6
Net Rating: +4.5
It’s getting really hard to sort out this Atlanta-Charlotte-Toronto tier of teams, but the Raptors get the nod this week after playing the Cavs and Warriors close, and with a head-to-head win over the Hornets a week ago.
There is no way Woo wrote this after the Kings game. No way. In any case, much like the Raptors last couple of wins, we’ll take the ranking and run off into the night, never to look back again.
I know who I can count on to not cut corners here: Dr. John Schuhmann of NBA.com.
7. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 4)
Pace: 98.0 (20) OffRtg: 109.4 (3) DefRtg: 104.9 (18) NetRtg: +4.5 (8)
Each of the Raptors' last eight games (they're 4-4) have been within five points in the last five minutes. After losing to the Cavs and Warriors (coughing up a seven-point lead with a little over four minutes to go against Cleveland), they got big threes from Terrence Ross in overtime in Denver on Friday and at the end of regulation in Sacramento on Sunday. Unfortunately, that second one didn't count after a video review made Dwane Casey furious and gave the Kings a season sweep. Their defense got scorched by Cleveland and Golden State and faces two more top-five offenses this week.
The math here totally checks out. The Raptors have been humbled over the past week and a bit, they’ve struggled at times defensive, and yes, as the doctor notes: the Kings game makes people furious.
Finally, we wrap up this rage-inducing column with our favourite rage-inducer Matt Moore of CBS Sports. (For the record, he’s a good guy!) Let’s read:
6. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 4)
The Raptors have stumbled pretty far off the path of good defense, but they know their way back. They have to manage a West Coast road trip, but the difference this season is when one unit struggles, the rest are able to pick them up. They've had great balance.
This could probably apply to almost any week in recent Raptors history. I reject this conclusion!
Still mad. Just get to the poll.