Look at that header image there. It’s a modern tableau, a work of art worthy of a museum. That’s Jonas Valanciunas, P.J. Tucker, and Patrick Patterson, left to right, of the Toronto Raptors. And save for perhaps Patterson’s hand being extended in an admonishing gesture towards the exuberant Valanciunas, it could have been painted by one of the Dutch masters. I love it.
Also, and this is related, I love the Raptors too. This is in no small part related to what each of these men has brought to this team, both in their strengths and limitations, in their efforts to make it as good as it can be. We must remember to savour that.
With Patterson, there are threes to be found and a calming presence for a young bench contingent. (There are also pranks, but that’s neither here nor there.) When Patterson was down with an injury, the Raptors came modestly unglued. It is good to know he’s there whenever the team needs him.
The book on Tucker is easier to write: the man is toughness and hard work personified. He wants to ruin the day of his opponents. They want no part of him. He is on the Raptors going into the first post-season of his career in the NBA. It’s beautiful.
Finally, our large adult son Jonas. It’s true Valanciunas will likely never be an All-Star starting centre capable of leading a team. But in those moments when his motor revs and he suddenly looks unstoppable, JV is breathtaking. He could absolutely swing a playoff series by himself.
All this is to say, the Raptors had a good week. The Power Rankings are in, and guess what, they confirm it as such. Here’s how things shook out.
First up, as always, our sainted leader Marc Stein of ESPN. What do you have, good man?
5. Toronto Raptors
2016-17 record: 47-30
Turns out Toronto did not forfeit its shot at a second successive 50-win season when it lost Kyle Lowry to a wrist injury. The details surrounding Lowry's return remain unknown -- specifically whether it can happen before the end of the regular season and with precisely how much practice time attached -- but the Raps have zoomed to a surprising mark of 15-6 without their All-Star point guard. A 3-2 finish, then, would cement another 50-win campaign for a group that has won eight of its past nine by stepping up its ball movement in Lowry's absence to support its eighth-ranked team defense. We're down to three teams that rank in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency for the season: Golden State, San Antonio ... and these Raps.
For me, it’s all in that final ellipsis there. Everything, the world, the whole universe, is contained in that ellipsis. This is a special Raptors team and they’re playing without their best player. Like, holy shit.
What does Jeremy Woo of SI have for us? Surely, he will temper our excitement in some way.
5. Toronto Raptors (47–30)
Last Week: 6
Net Rating: +5.1
Don’t look now, but the Raptors look pretty threatening. Kyle Lowry is almost back. Never answer Masai Ujiri’s calls, guys.
Hahahaha, nope, he will not. I have an alternative opinion to offer here, a totally unbiased take. Ready? Here goes: Take Masai’s phone calls. He is a nice man and wishes only for good things to happen to you and your team. Answer the phone. It is ringing now. Go forth and be happy. Yesssssssss.
Wait, damn, I’m getting too jazzed. Doctor Schuhmann, please advise.
5. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 8)
Pace: 97.2 (22) OffRtg: 110.1 (4) DefRtg: 105.0 (8) NetRtg: +5.1 (4)
For the second straight season and thanks to the best bench in the East, the Raptors lead the league in wins after trailing by double-digits, with four more (19) than they had last season (15). They'd have a nine-game winning streak if they didn't blow their own double-digit lead and allow the Hornets to score 44 points in the fourth quarter on Wednesday, but they're back in third place and just might get Kyle Lowry back this week. DeMar DeRozan not only has three 40-point games in the last two weeks, but also three games of eight or more assists in that stretch.
So, basically what you’re telling me is that you can never count these Raptors out, they are passing the ball more — one of their long time weaknesses — and they have the best bench in the East. Oh yeah, and Kyle Lowry, our lord and saviour, might — might! — be back this week. I may get fired from my job today for causing too much of a raucous on this fine afternoon. Hoo boy.
Not even Matt Moore of CBS and Twitter fame can slow us down now. Let’s goooooo:
5. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 5)
Raptors are 9-2 in their last 11 and back in control of the 3-seed. It would be nice, however, to hear what Kyle Lowry's condition is. Or location. Is he still on this plane of existence? Where is he?
This mofo is straight up digging for dirt here. Lowry is in Toronto, he never left (except for check-ups, and the team’s road games). He even addressed the media today to provide some assurances that he would be back before the season ended.
I don’t know about all of you, but I’m not sure I would bet against Kyle Lowry. As you’ll recall, there’s a law of the universe that must be obeyed. It reads as follows: Kyle Lowry Over Everything.
Now, to the gotdamn poll. Woo.
Are the Toronto Raptors being ranked fairly?
This poll is closed
No, I am so turnt right now I don’t even know what to do
Yes, though they could absolutely smash the Celtics
No, the sun is going to explode eventually, I guess
Yes, man, what is with that guy from the previous answer?