What didn’t happen this week for the Raptors? They began 2018 with a wildly entertaining overtime win over the Bucks, powered by a franchise-record 52 points from DeMar DeRozan. Then, they headed out on the road and beat the voodoo-aided Bulls in Chicago with a rip-roaring all-consuming performance from Delon Wright. Finally, as if that wasn’t enough, they took on the Bucks again (this time in Milwaukee) and watched as Jonas Valanciunas went complete Odin Son on the whole squad in one of the more remarkable third quarters you’ll ever see from a Raptors team.
Still: the team is ranked number three or lower in this week’s Power Rankings.
Believe me, I want to rage here, but then I remember what happened the last time the Raptors scaled the mountain to the number one spot: immediate devastating losses. Could that happen again? Will the Raptors be better prepared next time? Time will tell — in the meantime, perhaps lurking just outside everyone’s expectations is... a good thing?
So fine, let’s see what exactly this week’s rankings have to say about Toronto.
First up, as per usual, the human metronome operation at ESPN gives Michael Schwartz, a real guy, his time to shine:
4. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 6)
Over their past 19 games, the Raptors are 16-3 with the best net efficiency in the NBA. Just how good are they? We could find out this week when the NBA’s best home team (at 14-1) hosts the Cavs on Thursday and the Warriors on Saturday.
Man, it will never not be crazy to realize how thoroughly the Raptors have been bopping teams off course over the last month. We are truly blessed — and I hope to still feel that way come next Monday.
Next up, are we having fun yet with Kenny Ducey at Sports Illustrated? Let’s see.
5. Toronto Raptors (27–10)
Last Week: 4
Contrary to popular belief, ‘52’ is not where we had DeMar DeRozan ranked in our preseason Top 100.
No, they did not. SI, in fact, had DeRozan ranked at 36, one behind Khris Middleton, the guy he scored most of those 52 points on. We have the receipts, fellas.
Moving on (before I get too petty), here comes Dr. John Schuhmann with some cold hard analysis at the NBA home site:
3. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 3)
Pace: 100.6 (10) OffRtg: 111.0 (4) DefRtg: 103.2 (6) NetRtg:+7.8 (2)
The Raptors scored 124 points per 100 possessions in two games last week against a Bucks’ defense that had them stymied in Games 1-4 of the first round last year. Shooting (and making) threes raises DeMar DeRozan’s ceiling and he set a franchise record with 52 points on Monday. Kyle Lowry is also shooting better (league-best 17-for-33 on pull-up threes since Dec. 15), and the Raptors’ starting lineup has been much better than any they’ve had in the last five years. Of course, they still closed that overtime game against Milwaukee with Serge Ibaka at the five, a look that they haven’t used much, but has produced good numbers on both ends of the floor. Despite some slippage on defense, the Raps have won their last 11 games within the Eastern Conference, but have played the fewest games (seven) within the current top eight. This week’s three-game homestand includes two more of those, as well as a visit from the champs.
It's been a while since the Raptors had a decent starting lineup. This one has been their best of the Lowry-DeRozan era. pic.twitter.com/m6bo1oU6m5— John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) January 6, 2018
This appears to me to be a long and thoughtful way of saying: the Raptors are fun and good. We made it.
Finally, to get the last shot in, here comes Chris Barnewall of CBS Sports to let us know what he really thinks:
3. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 4)
They say if you look directly at DeMar DeRozan while shooting it can make you go blind. His game is so hot right now that it should be able to warm the entire city of Toronto for the duration of winter. He has a good chance at being an All-Star Game starter.
Facts only all-around. And you know what, I’m not even mad that Toronto is still ranked behind Boston every time. Can’t wait to dust them in the second round of the playoffs. Yeehaw!
Now, onto the poll.
Are the Raptors being ranked fairly in this week’s Power Rankings?
This poll is closed
No, and the best movie I saw this week was Phantom Thread!
Yes, and the best movie I saw this week was The Last Jedi!
No, and the best movie I saw this week was Interstellar!
Yes, and the worst movie I saw this week was The Dark Crystal!