In last week’s Power Rankings, the man upstairs Daniel Reynolds wrote a sassy dek about the Raptors starting the new year with a perfect 1.000 mark. In the face of personal hysteria over how bad this week was — Toronto has now lost five of seven — I’m choosing to blame the karma of that statement for this week’s Power Rankings.
Yes, I’m subbing in to bring you the rankings this week, as Daniel is either “busy” or simply can’t face the reality of what I’m about to show you. For weeks, the ranking powers that be — the Mount Rushmore of Stein, Woo, Schuhmann, and Moore — have praised the Raptors. This week, after losses to the Bulls and Rockets, those powers have uniformly moved Toronto behind our hated enemy, the Boston Celtics.
If this is hard to swallow, it’s doubly so because we can’t take our angst out on a fun poll. That feature is still in the works. Instead, you’ll have to deal with my blather and voice your disgust in the comments.
Enough pretext, though. Let’s roll the tape and begin with Marc Stein of ESPN.
7. Toronto Raptors
2016-17 record: 24-13
Previous ranking: 5
The Raptors lost their final game of 2016 in Phoenix on the second night of a back-to-back and frankly look like they haven't recovered. Toronto just absorbed an absolute shredding in San Antonio, found a way to lose its ninth successive regular-season meeting to the turmoil-drenched Bulls and capped its most frustrating week of the season by surrendering 129 points at home to unstoppable Raps nemesis James Harden and his Rockets pals. Boston's four-game winning streak, meanwhile, means that the Raptors are no longer alone with the Cavaliers on the list of the Eastern Conference residents on a 50-wins-or-better pace.
Seventh!? Allow me to make all the faces shown here:
The lack of interest in Tom Hiddleston's story about his show is my everything https://t.co/vsTHCK0WQK— Dave Lozo (@davelozo) January 9, 2017
Now in with Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated, who cooly twists the knife of the Bulls loss before dropping the Raptors out of the top five.
6. Toronto Raptors (24–13)
Last Week: 5
Net Rating: +7.3
Toronto falls out of the top five for the first time this season after an up-and-down couple of weeks, and as Boston heats up. I wouldn’t say I’m concerned, but blowing a 19-point lead to the Bulls doesn’t help.
Don’t scare me about Boston, Jeremy. I have a very real fear of the Raptors losing in the Eastern Conference semis. The analytical mind of John Schuhmann at NBA.com will surely appease us, right?
6. Toronto Raptors (Last week: 5)
Pace: 97.7 (20) OffRtg: 113.1 (2) DefRtg: 105.8 (19) NetRtg: +7.3 (3)
A rough stretch of schedule, combined with the absence of Patrick Patterson for four games, has taken its toll on the Raptors, who have lost five of their last seven games. Kyle Lowry has had a couple of rough offensive nights in that stretch and they had a season-low eight assists in San Antonio on Tuesday, but their defensive regression has hurt as much as their reliance on their guards. They now rank as the East's fourth worst defense and would fall to third place in the conference if they lose to the Celtics on Tuesday.
Hm, yes. The loss of Patrick Patterson is worth noting, because the Raptors’ rotations really looked out of whack without him. Still, the dread brought on by that Celtics statement — not cool.
Now, the underappreciated Matt Moore of CBS Sports, who has been far less critical of the Raptors this season. Maybe that’s because they’re actually a good team! Surely, he’ll find some positive in all this.
6. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 5)
Raptors Toronto's defensive slippage is officially a concern. The Raptors are now 20th in the league, and can't seem to find a rhythm on that end. They don't have the firepower to just outscore everyone, no matter how good their offense is. They need to tighten up the defense.
Good points, Matt. The Raptors need to “D up”, as they say in the schoolyards.
What are your thoughts on the Power Rankings? Fair? Not fair? Has the dread of losing sunk into your bones?