Do not tell Dwane Casey the Raptors may be on top of the NBA pyramid. He’ll hear none of that. For him, every game, win or lose, is just one more game in the books, onto the next one, forever and ever, amen. It’s a sharp mindset to have for the grind of the regular season, but also: come on man, the Raptors are absolutely on top of the NBA pyramid right now!
Are the Raptors the best team in the league? Obviously, most (all?) would still point to the Warriors. They’ve got the most superstar talent, and the pedigree to suggest they can turn it on at will and blow other teams away. The Raptors haven’t been able to beat them this season, after two close losses, and it’s fair to say they’re a step behind. Toronto still needs to prove something to the world.
But the Rockets are very much in the same boat. They have a superstar backcourt (like the Raptors), and the likely MVP candidate, but they have yet to prove they can actually put it all together and run the table in the post-season.
If nothing else, the Raptors’ win on Friday over the Rockets signified at least one step forward for Toronto: they can beat the best, and they deserve to be considered one of the best. (If not, as you’re about to see, number one for everyone.)
Let’s see what the Power Rankings say.
First, the machines at ESPN have a few thoughts. This time, Matt Williams (or so he says) calculates where the Raptors are right now:
3. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 3)
The Raptors are an NBA-best 15-1 since Feb. 2, and one of the main reasons has been bench production. During that span, Toronto leads the NBA in bench scoring at 48.9 points per game with a plus-10.1 point differential.
These guys are just straight up on auto-pilot right now. The two teams ranked about the Raptors this week? You guessed it: the Rockets, who got slapped by Toronto, and the Warriors, who went 2-2 and didn’t look so hot. Time to take this robot in for repairs, guys.
Let’s scrub that passive take from our minds. Here’s Rohan Nadkarni at Sports Illustrated with a more demonstrative reading:
1. Toronto Raptors (49–17)
Last Week: 3
The Raptors have won eight in a row and nine of their last 10. It’s not too late for Drake to re-make the “God’s Plan” video and add one scene of DeMar DeRozan holding up the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
[Hubie Brown voice]
OK, you’re the Toronto Raptors, you’ve spent the past few years building up a balanced roster, you’ve re-worked your offensive game plan, you’ve developed a solid defensive system, and you’ve got great chemistry. Then you go out there and win eight games in a row, including one against the best team in the league. What does that tell you? It tells you you are now the best team in the NBA.
Now on to another august figure, Dr. John Schuhmann of NBA dot com, to bring the juice.
1. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 3)
Pace: 100.2 (11) OffRtg: 111.2 (3) DefRtg: 102.6 (4) NetRtg:+8.5 (3)
The Raptors got a signature win on Friday, outscoring the Rockets, 45-27 from 3-point range, with their defensive scheme keeping Houston’s threes in check and with Kyle Lowry making seven of his nine attempts from beyond the arc. For the season, only Brooklyn (28 percent) has allowed its opponents to take a lower percentage of their shots from 3-point range than the Raptors have (29 percent), with Toronto having seen the biggest decrease from last season (when 33 percent of their opponents’ shots came from beyond the arc). While the win over Houston was huge, the Raps were the first team to clinch a playoff spot because they lead the league in TCB (takin’ care of business), with a 29-2 record against the 12 teams currently under .500 after beating the Hawks, Pistons and Knicks last week. One of the two losses was in Dallas on Boxing Day, and the Mavs will have a rest advantage when the two teams meet again in Toronto on Friday.
Facts. Facts. Facts. Facts. Facts. Please do not underestimate a team’s ability to TCB, my friends.
And finally, the dudes at CBS Sports — OK, really just Chris Barnewall — give it a go for Toronto:
1. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 3)
Toronto is the real deal. Obviously it’s all about the playoffs for Dwane Casey’s bunch, but this is the best regular season run in franchise history. The bench is incredible, DeMar DeRozan looks like a legitimate MVP candidate and everything is just clicking for them. It’ll be interesting to see what they can do come playoff time.
This is the just right take. The Raptors are indeed the real deal, but still have to prove something to the world (and, in a sense, to themselves). All we can do now is wait for the real show to start.
Now, onto the poll.
Are the Raptors being ranked fairly in Week 21 of the Power Rankings?
This poll is closed
No, but we’re... we’re so close... come on.......
Yes, but even I have to agree they should probably all be #1 this week
No, something something the playoffs something something
Yes, now I have time for provincial politics! First, let me take a big swig of coffee...