Every news update or game report on the 2017-18 Toronto Raptors could be preceded by an ICYMI qualifier. It often spiritually feels like that’s been the case with this team for the past few years, not just with this one. Nevertheless, this most recent version of the Raptors must lead the league in In Case You Missed It feelings. Case in point:
In case you missed it: the Raptors are number one in the Eastern Conference.
In case you missed it: the Raptors are the only team ranked top five in both offensive (4th) and defensive ranking (3rd).
In case you missed it: the Raptors haven’t been blown out since December 27 vs. the Thunder.
In case you missed it: the Raptors have won five in a row, and seven of their last eight.
In case you missed it: the Raptors have the best bench in the league by net rating (8.4).
In case you missed it: the Raptors are fun and good.
This has been the Raptors’ lot in life for years now, so we’re used to it. But this season has really been eye-opening in terms of the discussion around the team. Toronto has literally never been better, never been a more credible threat to do something in the playoffs. We said this last year and it wasn’t to be, but all of the things we wanted fixed, got fixed. There’s never been a better time to be a Raptors fan.
Just, you know, in case you missed it. Now, let’s get to the Power Rankings.
First up, did the robot masters at ESPN, and this week’s minder Jose De Leon, miss anything:
3. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 4)
The Raptors have won five straight games in dominating fashion. Each of their wins has been by at least 15 points, the longest streak in franchise history. They join the Warriors (six straight) as the only teams to win five straight games by at least 15 points each this season.
You know what Jose forgot to mention here: the Raptors starters haven’t had to play in the fourth quarter in any of these five wins. A major ICYMI!
Now, onto the good guys at Sports Illustrated. Here’s Rohan Nadkarni with an on-time, on-target update:
2. Toronto Raptors (39–16)
The Raptors are No. 1 in the East, and their bench lineup has been one of the most fun units to watch across the league this season. OG Anunoby isn’t in the Rookie of the Year conversation, but he’s had an incredible impact on a team with Finals aspirations. If the Raptors make the Finals this year, their end-of-season documentary will spend a good eight minutes on how silly Sports Illustrated looked disrespecting DeMar DeRozan.
ICYMI: the braintrust at SI (Ben Golliver and Rob Mahoney) had DeRozan ranked as the 36th best player in the league coming into this season. I wonder what where they’d put him now. I hope to not miss that!
Next, never one to miss anything, here’s Dr. John Schuhmann at NBA dot com with a healthy update:
3. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 3)
Pace: 100.5 (10) OffRtg: 110.5 (4) DefRtg: 102.6 (3) NetRtg:+7.9 (3)
A five-game winning streak, featuring an easy win over the Celtics, has pushed the Raptors past Boston into the East’s top seed. Noted 3-point gunners DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas have shot a combined 19-for-42 (45 percent) from beyond the arc during the streak, but Toronto’s five-man bench unit is a ridiculous plus-83 in 56 minutes over last four games (C.J. Miles missed the first game of the winning streak). As much attention has been paid to the changes on offense, the Toronto defense has been more improved this season, having allowed 2.3 fewer points per 100 possessions than it did last season. Improvement has come both on the perimeter (the Raps have seen the league’s biggest decrease - by a wide margin - in the percentage of their opponent shots that have come from 3-point range) and inside (only the Blazers have allowed a lower field goal percentage in the restricted area).
There’s nothing here I’d like to report on. Schuhmann is right to suggest the Raps’ defense has as much to do with the uptick in Toronto’s fortunes as its offense. And, as we all know by now: the Raps bench is no joke. (Wait, I have one: ICYMI, none of the Raptors’ young players are going to be part of the All-Star weekend festivities.)
Finally, finally, finally, we come to CBS Sports and Chris Barnewall. Take it away, big fella:
2. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 2)
The Raptors stood pat at the deadline. Their plans are obvious. Take this new offense and try to keep it going in the playoffs. There’s nothing more the regular season can teach us about these Raps. We’ll re-convene in April.
ICYMI: Well, actually... Toronto traded Bruno.
Now, on to the poll.
Are the Raptors being ranked fairly in Week 17 of the Power Rankings?
This poll is closed
No, [Christopher Lambert voice] there can be only one
Yes, this is the best Raptors team we’ve ever seen
No, did you see what LeBron did???
Yes, I split my time between worrying about the first round and the Finals