We decided to push Week 13 of the Power Rankings Poll back a day for a couple of reasons. First, we had numerous pieces go up Monday morning gauging the Raptors at the mid-season mark. Second, it was an American holiday and I underestimated the dedication of many astute Power Rankings People. Third, and perhaps most importantly, the Raptors played a dang game on Monday afternoon at 1pm. We were all a little pre-occupied, is my point.
Nevertheless, we’re here now to take stock of the Raptors after a perplexing week. The Raptors played four games, went 2-2, lost those games by a total of three points (one of them to the defending champs), and lay a joyous 34-point beatdown on LeBron James and the Cavaliers on national TV. They also lost their starting point guard, Kyle Lowry, to injury for three of those games, then got him back, lost again (in a game not counted in this week’s Rankings), and find themselves... where, exactly?
The Power Rankings Poll continues to search for an answer. Let’s see what they have to say.
First up, Matt Williams (a real guy) at ESPN opens up with some information:
3. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 4)
Toronto split its games against the NBA Finals participants this past week. The Raptors defeated the Cavaliers 133-99 on Thursday, their largest win in franchise history against a team at least 10 games above .500. On Saturday, Toronto trailed Golden State by 27 points at halftime, but came back to within a point late in the fourth quarter before ultimately losing 127-125.
Thank you, Matt. My soul, it is stirred.
Next up, our main man at Sports Illustrated, Kenny Ducey, let’s fly, as per usual:
7. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 5)
Drake telling C.J. Miles—a professional shooter—how to shoot just killed me.
Also, Drake getting really mad at this ref made me laugh.
The way Drake looked at this ref pic.twitter.com/avja4Q9qRI— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) January 14, 2018
Also also, remember what I said about questioning whether or not Fred VanVleet could score consistently off the bench? Turns out I was wrong!
Let’s first give Ducey some credit — Drake is indeed funny in this situation. He knows exactly when the camera is on him at all times, and always knows how to play it up.
But Duce, my man, that’s not “a ref,” that’s Tony Brothers. And Fred VanVleet? Yeah, the guy can ball. (Here’s hoping he’s OK after Monday afternoon’s right knee contusion.) ((Also, ranked 7th? Man, a blowout against the Cavs doesn’t count for anything these days.))
On to the rational mind of Dr. John Schuhmann of the NBA homeland. He gets it:
3. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 3)
Pace: 100.7 (9) OffRtg: 110.9 (3) DefRtg: 103.2 (5) NetRtg:+7.6 (3)
Blowing an 11-point, fourth-quarter lead in Brooklyn on Monday resulted in a Kyle Lowry injury in overtime, which played a part in the end of the Raptors’ 12-game, home winning streak a night later. Of course, the Raptors still blew out the Cavs and almost came back from 27 points down against the Warriors without Lowry. The young bench has been somewhat inconsistent over the last month, with Norman Powell having the league’s worst effective field goal percentage (minimum 50 field goal attempts) since Christmas. But it had a big second half on Saturday and the Raps still rank second (behind the Warriors) in bench NetRtg. Fred VanVleet shot 9-for-14 from 3-point range against Cleveland and Golden State, scoring a career-high 22 points against the Cavs.
As usual, there’s a lot to unpack here. Let’s just skip past all the negative stuff (Kyle Lowry injured, the home winning streak over, the close call against the Warriors, Norman Powell’s struggles) and remember the good times against Cleveland when Fred VanVleet was going off.
[cue up relaxing, dreamy music]
—wait... where was I? Oh yeah, once more we are dragged back to Earth to entertain the thinking of CBS Sports’ Chris Barnewall. What you got, Barne-y?
4. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 3)
Toronto lost Kyle Lowry for a brief period of time due to a tailbone bruise, but luckily they have DeMar DeRozan and he’s been balling out of his mind. DeRozan has scored 35-plus points four times just this January, including a 50-point effort on New Year’s Day, which has some people wondering why he’s not getting MVP consideration.
Hmmmmmm, why would DeMar DeRozan not be getting MVP consideration? I can think of nary a reason out there... on the internet...
Now, on to the poll.
Are the Raptors being ranked fairly in Week 13 of the Power Rankings?
This poll is closed
No, who’s that mofo who put them at 7?
Yes, but I’m feeling shakier about it than usual
No, you up there, feel the darkness flow through you and join me down here Option #3
Yes, let’s pretend Monday’s afternoon game didn’t happen