Not to be the fly in the ointment, as it were, but the All-Star news this week has not be all good. Yes, the Raptors will have Kyle Lowry there as a starter, and DeMar DeRozan in a reserve role. There were no spectacularly egregious selections, though Kobe being voted in is whack. The celebrity game is going to feature Drake, Jose Bautista and Steve Nash, which is awesome -- even though Kevin Hart is going to do what he can to bogart all the attention. Yao Ming will be in the city. But still.
Have you checked the weather reports for the weekend? While it is currently a balmy 4 degrees celsius at the moment, the very day of All-Star Saturday night, the premier party time of the weekend, will see temperatures drop to minus 17. That's 17 degress below zero, which is the temperature at which water freezes. To put it a different way: If the weather were a player in our team's rotation, it would be a trainwreck on offense and defense. We would bench the weather. We would be trying to trade the weather. The weather would have no upside. It is bad, this weather.
There's also the threat of a looming taxi cab strike to consider. Perfect timing, guys! Just when the weather reaches "why do we live here?" status, there will be total traffic gridlock and no cabs. I'll be taking transit the whole time (props to the TTC) but I worry about my city.
Let's just get to the rankings.
As per usual, we being first with Marc Stein of ESPN. What do you have for us, Steiny Mo?
Last Week: 3
|Heard a lot of vitriol coming out of Cleveland a week ago when the Raptors, riding an 11-game win streak to match an old Blue Jays 11-gamer for the longest in city history, placed one spot higher than the Cavs. Not so much after the Raps rebounded with a win three nights later on the hot Blazers' floor, and the Cavs dropped two in a row for their first mini-crisis under Tyronn Lue.|
An old Blue Jays 11-gamer? It happened twice last year, Marc! Still, much love to you, man. Looking forward to running into you on the streets of Toronto.
Leave it to Jeremy Woo of SI.com to also invoke the negatives lurking in the Raptors' future:
5) TORONTO RAPTORS
LAST WEEK: 4
RECORD: 34-16 (2-1)
January/February's very own have lost just thrice since 2016 began, and will have the luxury of an All-Star break spent at home after five games on the road. They've been the East's best team, but a home date with the Cavs on Feb. 26 looms large right now given the 22-point blowout loss in Cleveland a month ago.
He's so right though! The Cleveland game is the one to watch. Ahhh, I'm nervous already.
Dr. John Schuhmann of NBA.com, talk us through this please:
5) Toronto Raptors
Last week: 5
Pace: 95.8 (26) OffRtg: 105.4 (6) DefRtg: 101.1 (9) NetRtg: +4.3 (6)
The Raptors' winning streak came to an end in Denver on Monday and they lost another starter (James Johnson) to injury in the process. To keep his bench intact, Dwane Casey started rookie Norman Powell as the Raptors began another winning streak in Phoenix and Portland. DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry combined for 107 points in the two wins and will certainly play some minutes together in Sunday's All-Star Game.
There we are. The Raptors lost, but they've been rebuilding their win streak already (with Norman Powell no less!) and Lowry and DeRozan are playing at the All-Star game. All good vibes. Much love, John.
So then what does Matt Moore of CBS Sports have to say about all of this:
4) Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 5)
They have one loss in the last month, and have played the most consistent basketball in the East. I'm still refusing to get behind the idea they can beat Cleveland, but I continue to be impressed. The Raptors are sixth in offense, ninth in defense per possession despite significant injuries to key players.
That's fair, Matt. Let's just agree to walk away.
Now, on to the poll. Don't freeze me out here!