All things being equal, if you knew nothing about the Raptors you'd say their past week was pretty good. Three games, three wins, a climb back up the standings. They are tied for third with the Wizards, tonight's opponent, and there is no reason to believe they can't beat them too. (Washington came off a win last night so they're tired; of course, the win was against the Warriors, which can have a curative effect.)
Of course, there is a reason, and all things are not equal, and you do know something about the Raptors. Yesterday Kyle Lowry had wrist surgery and he'll be out until early April. These are the facts.
Coverage of the Raptors will be filtered through this lens for the time being. Despite the recent and exciting acquisitions of Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker -- totally yesterday's news! -- the story around Toronto now is if they can hang on to their place in the Eastern Conference. Minus their best and most important player, it's not an unfair question to ask.
The Wizards' starting lineup is a problem. Put the combination of John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat in front of the Raptors (even whole) and they'd have their hands full. Still, one would think and hope the Raptors could beat this squad. This isn't 2014-15, and the Wizards' bench is a tire fire that should be easily contained by the Raptors' new found depth. But that starting lineup is a danger. I worry.
Tonight's matchup will provide some indication of where the Raptors are right now. Either way the outcome goes, it won't be satisfying. Without Lowry, nothing will be satisfying. All things being equal, we know this too.
Catch up on the game details here with Matt Teague's preview. And then, get in the comments.