It’s OK to admit to some nervousness as we head into 2019 with the Toronto Raptors. As fans that feeling never really goes away, of course — especially with Toronto sports teams — but we should resolve to feel less anxious about the Raptors anyway. They squad is good, and they’ve been playing extremely well more often than not this calendar year. (Even acknowledging last season’s playoff flame-out.)
Yes, we’d like these Raptors to all to be a bit healthier right now, or to get out of whatever mind-altering slumps they may or may not be in at the current moment, but still: the pieces are there for greatness. In a sense, it’s how we should all feel about ourselves in the present moment as the calendar page flips over to the new year. Things have been up and down for 2019 and for sure some bad stuff has (and continues!) to go on — but we can resolve to move on, and forward, together. We’ve got the pieces there too.
In that spirit, let’s embrace the Raptors for 2019 as they head towards perhaps one of the more important post-seasons in recent memory (or ever). It may not play out as all of us want it to, but we’re going to work away and hope for the best anyway.
Now, let’s see what the Power Rankings have for us this week, on the final day of 2018.
Over at ESPN, we’ve got one more take from Kevin Arnovitz:
3. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 2)
The Raptors, whose early-season dominance has receded in December, would love to get Kyle Lowry a clean bill a health and back into the lineup. Though he has struggled with his shot for much of the season, Lowry has always rated highly as a positive on-court influence — and this season is no exception. The Raptors score 117 points per 100 possessions when Lowry is on the floor and only 100.8 when he’s not. Toronto faces a tough four games in six days this week, with dates at San Antonio and Milwaukee, bookended by home tilts with Utah and Indiana.
Ah yes, some keen insight here: Kyle Lowry... is important to the Raptors. Look, I’m not upset about this, I’m just antsy. I want, nay, I need Lowry back on the court and healthy. The Raptors are his squad, of this there is no doubt now, and when he’s firing on all cylinders, there literally is no telling how far this version of the team can go. Come on, 2019! Don’t let us down.
For his final missive of the year, what does SI’s Khadrice Rollins have for us:
3. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 2)
The week without Kyle Lowry was fine for the most part. But the Raptors did get smacked by the Magic. It’s all good up North, but if you’re one of those people who just wants to automatically count out the Raptors just because, bring up the 29-point loss in Orlando as your justification.
Whomst are the Orlando Magic? Frankly that team sounds made up. We’re leaving such things to the dustbin of history. The “Magic” beat the Raptors by 29 points? I don’t believe it. We’re on to the new year. Whatever.
It’s hard not to see the logic (of course) at work with Dr. John Schuhmann at NBA dot com:
4. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 3)
The Raptors have now played 10 straight games without either Kyle Lowry (who has missed seven of the last eight with thigh and back injuries) or Kawhi Leonard. Their offense has suffered, scoring just 102.5 points per 100 possessions (the league’s third worst mark) over the last 15 days, with guards Fred VanVleet, Danny Green and Delon Wright shooting a combined 36 percent over that stretch. Green did hit the game-winning 3-pointer in Miami on Wednesday and the Raptors scratched out an ugly win over the Bulls on Sunday, but in between was their worst loss of the season, in which they were doubled up in the paint (52-26) by the Magic. Leonard makes his return to San Antonio on Thursday, but weekend games against the Bucks and Pacers are obviously more important.
Doctor, thank you once again. This is where the anxiety comes into play. Without a healthy roster, it’ll be tough for Toronto to compete with some of their upcoming competition. On top of that, the Bucks officially scare me — and the Raps are already down 0-2 in the head-to-head department. On the one hand, maybe the Raptors catch fire later in the season as the team rounds into form. Or, on the other, maybe this is all foreshadowing. Damn, I just chilled myself to the bone. Forget I wrote any of this — good vibes only in 2019.
And finally, the man we resolve to be nicer to in this space, it’s Reid Forgrave at CBS Sports:
2. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 2)
The Raptors’ resolution: To do everything they can to get that No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference — because home-court advantage could be the difference-maker in a conference where it’s hard to see much separation between the top four teams.
Dammit Reid, we know! We know! We know! Ahhh, now I’m angry all over again. Let’s forget about this whole deal and party away the last 10 hours of 2018. Then, we’ll steel ourselves for what’s to come — whatever it may be.
Now, on to the poll.
Are the Raptors being ranked fairly in Week 11 of the Power Rankings?
This poll is closed
No, a hurt team cannot be accurately graded, sorry
Yes, but I agree with the above line of reasoning (wtf???)
No, 2019 holds no hope
Yes, we’re keeping all our options open, resolving to be our best selves, and the Raptors are ready, come what may