The racking up of franchise records and milestones has been one of my favourite subplots to this Raptors season. The team is posed to achieve its first ever 50-win season, which is tremendous. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are now the only Raptors to be named Player of the Month twice (while in Toronto), which is cool. DeRozan even cracked 9,000 career points, which is a hell of a milestone. I feel like I'm forgetting others, but they just keep coming. Case in point: Against the Heat last Saturday, DeRozan threw up 38 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds -- a nice +35-10-5 line for the first time in his career. "There's always something new. I don't know what to say," said DeRozan afterwards.
That's generally where we are with the Raptors right now. Well, OK, maybe that's just where I am with them: there's not much left to say. The Raptors are 44-20 and have proven themselves to be a good team. They are not great -- as coach Dwane Casey will humbly attest. We know all this already, because we're all just waiting. The regular season records and milestones are nice. You can nod to them afterwards and smile. But really we just want this regular season to end. We want these final 18 games to be over. Just deliver us to the playoffs. That's the only record that matters now.
Let's get to the rankings.
First up, El Presidente Marc Stein of ESPN hits us up with some eye-opening records of his own:
Can you believe that? 16-2 at home in 2016. We also get our first mention of DeMarre Carroll, who represents the biggest running subplot and X-Factor and lasting hope and every other idle dream this city has ever had.
Now here's Jeremy Woo of SI.com as he apparently grasps at some weird straws:
4) TORONTO RAPTORS
LAST WEEK: 4
RECORD: 44-20 (3-0)
The Raptors are 34-1 when shooting at a better or equal clip to their opponents, a number that makes sense in a vacuum (shoot better, you should win), but astonishes in terms of raw consistency. That said, some correction in the form of weird-luck games could eventually be in order.
Weird-luck games? This has been going on for three quarters of the season! Get off it with your weird-luck games. Maybe last year, when the Raptors offense was living and dying by the whims of Lou Williams, there was a case to be made. But now, with this rock solid (relatively speaking) lineup? Let's get "luck" out of the equation.
Order restored, thanks to John Schuhmann of NBA.com:
4) Toronto Raptors
Last week: 5
Pace: 95.5 (28) OffRtg: 107.0 (5) DefRtg: 102.7 (11) NetRtg: +4.4 (6)
DeMar DeRozan (31.0 points on 50 percent shooting in three games) looks like a Player of the Week candidate and the Raptors' bench is back to building on leads after some struggles. More important is that Toronto has held two straight opponents (both Eastern Conference playoff teams) under a point per possession for the first time since January. Now comes a tough, five-game week.
DeRozan is awesome. The bench is steady. The defense is a notch better. Schuhmann gets it.
And finally, we turn to Matt Moore at CBS Sports who is sure to have fans tying themselves in knots:
3) Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 4)
Really terrific pair of wins for the Raptors this week vs. the Hawks and Heat. If they can carry their consistency into the playoffs and get DeMarre Carroll back, watch out. Dwane Casey has flew under the radar as a COY candidate this season.
Moore, who Raptors fans always go after on Twitter, is praising the team to the high heavens. This is good. Now Raptors fans won't have as many reasons to complain about being treated unfairly. But then, Moore praises coach Casey, who many (yes, I see you in the comments) think is in over his head. This is quite a conundrum for Joe Q. Raptor Fan. Do you agree with Moore or get upset? Why must you get upset? Don't get upset.
Take it to the poll and then the comments, guys.