The Raptors, like many of us, are easing into the Christmas holidays early. Case in point: over the past seven days they’ve played a mere two games, both at home, against two middling opponents. Not only that, those two games were embedded in a week of rest — first they had Sunday to Tuesday off, and then followed that up with a work-free weekend. That’s some serious self care, guys.
For Power Ranking purposes, this means the Raptors are at least going to hold down their spot. They went 2-0 this week, and while may not have been the most trying of times in Toronto, it means they continue to be quite good on the whole. There’s a Christmas joke to make here, but give me a break — I’m chilling, too.
So, what do this week’s rankings actually say? I’m glad, as always, you asked.
First up, the robo-calls at ESPN have ended (this week, anyway) and we have a real, honest-to-god live person reflecting on the Raptors. Here’s Vincent “Don’t Call Me Vinnie” Johnson:
6. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 7)
2017-18 record: 14-7
Over his past 10 games, Kyle Lowry is averaging 20.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game while shooting 50 percent from the floor and 48 percent from 3-point range. In that span, his player efficiency rating is 25.5, better than Stephen Curry's or Russell Westbrook's in that span. Entering this hot stretch, Lowry's PER was just below the level of an average NBA player at 14.9.
Have you heard the news? Kyle Lowry.... is elite. Tell a friend.
Moving on, Kenny Ducey at Sports Illustrated is back to his cutting ways, pointing out the very real problem with Drake’s sideline reporting game:
6. Toronto Raptors (14–7)
Last Week: 7
This was the only thing that went wrong with the Raptors this week:
Sideline reporter Drake asks question, holds microphone to his own face as Kyle Lowry speaks so we can't hear him. needs work pic.twitter.com/PCiqsToh0V— Kenny Ducey (@KennyDucey) November 30, 2017
For all the love Drake gets whenever he steps on the broadcast (with Matt and Jack only; his vibe with Leo is tense), this is inexcusable. We know you want it to be all about you, Drake, but at least let Lowry be heard!
Please, somebody tell Drake that Kyle Lowry is elite.
No jokes here, Dr. Schuhmann is in the building. What’s he got at NBA.com? Read on:
5. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 5)
Pace: 100.2 (11) OffRtg: 110.8 (4) DefRtg: 103.2 (10) NetRtg:+7.6 (3)
The Raptors have been at their best both offensively and defensively (and have been the league's best team by a wide margin) in the second quarter, which they've won in 12 straight games. They've won their last four second quarters by a combined score of 151-88, with Kyle Lowry making 10 of his 12 second-quarter 3-point attempts over that stretch. Starting the period on the bench (instead of on the floor, like in previous seasons) seems to be agreeing with Lowry, because his second-quarter effective field goal percentage of 79.8 percent is the best mark for any player (with at least 50 field goal attempts) in any period. The league's easiest December schedule continues with eight straight games against teams at least five games under .500.
It’s been fascinating to track how the Raptors have adjusted their bench and “Lowry plus bench” lineups. Because they’ve got five or six guys to play in that second unit, both he and DeRozan get a rest now for chunks of time. Will we see that in the playoffs? Doubtful. But dang, look at those stats up there from the doctor — it’s cool!
And finally, let’s ring it up. The CBS Sports contingent, led by Chris Barnewall, has some — what’s this? Nice... things... to say?
5. Raptors (Last Week: 10)
They're just a really good basketball team right now: top five in net rating and offense, top 10 defense. However, Toronto being good in the regular season is nothing new. This is one long build up to the playoffs.
Ohhhhhh, so close.
On to the poll.
Are the Raptors being ranked fairly in Week 7 of the Power Rankings?
This poll is closed
No, when does Toronto get its day in the sun?
Yes, still need to see how this starting lineup will function
No, [wind howling across the moor] the plaaaayoffffssssssss
Yes, but it’s Christmas time already? Uh, I gotta go