The 2014-15 Raptors made an appearance at the ACC last night, as the team defense completely disappeared in the second half. The Rockets' James Harden took over the fourth quarter, while DeMar DeRozan struggled to score in some late hero ball possessions. It was not pretty.
The loss broke a 12 game home winning streak, but there is a chance to get another one going beginning Tuesday night against the dumpster fire Nets. The Raps still have a stranglehold on the two seed in the East, up 4.5 games on the Celtics and three games behind the Cavaliers.
A clean sweep is possible this week, but with the Raptors defense looking shaky, a loss to the Heat with their new found energy in Joe Johnson (not to mention Hassan Whiteside's dominance off the bench) seems likely.
March 8th vs. Nets - Ugh.
The games these two teams have played this year have arguably been the least visually appealing games of the year, so there's not much to say. Markel Brown has been a great fantasy pickup for me this week. Also watch this Vertical piece of Nets radio announcer, Chris Carrino, and how he battles the rare disease FSHD each day of the season.
March 10th vs. Hawks - ATL SHAWTY
The Hawks roll in on Thursday night wearing some combination of their honeycomb-ish uniforms, and it should be a good one. Atlanta has been up and down this season, but remain a gem of a league pass team to watch due to their ball movement and Spurs-lite system under Mike Budenholzer. Also the ACC crowd will surely be in awe at could-have-been future Raptor Al Horford, and how he picks apart the Raptors post defence.
March 12th vs. Heat - Basketball Night in Canada
For one night only the ACC's superior team will get the home floor advantage on Saturday night as they play host to Dwyane Wade and the new Heatles. Joe Johnson has been completely rejuvenated since joining the South Beach squad, and Hassan Whiteside embracing his bench role have made the Heat a threat in the East again and nobody would want to see them as their second round opponent. The Raps depth is going to have to show their experience against the likes of Heat backup Josh Richardson and exploit the matchup.
OUA Final Four for the Wilson Cup
Excuse the plug, but quite possibly the four best university basketball teams in Canada will be competing in the OUA Final Four this weekend at the Mattamy Athletic Centre and if you're able to make it out it will be worth your time. The semi-finals include the host #1 Ryerson Rams going up against the upstart #5 Windsor Lancers who are riding a 12 game win streak, and the other one is set up to be a war as the #2 Ottawa Gee-Gees and #3 Carleton Ravens bring Capital Hoops to Toronto.
Anyway, what are your Raptors picks for the week?