For (almost) the entire week, the Raptors played enjoyable, or, saving that, winning basketball. It all ended on a sour note though, with Toronto dropping their Sunday matinee game against the Thunder amidst of a flurry of rage, technical fouls, and ejections. As Kyle Lowry and Dwane Casey did while yesterday afternoon’s game got out of hand: you just had to laugh.
So here we are, not mad, just laughing. It’s funny to us, actually. The Raptors are still set in first place in the East, and sure they had their 11-game win streak snapped, and are no longer ranked number one in the league in the Power Rankings, but that’s no reason to lose our heads (unless you decide to laugh yours clean off).
With all that said, it was a hell of a game, and a hell of a week. Toronto took care of business on the road against the Magic (who cares) and the Pacers (tremendous), and then managed to frustrate the Mavericks into an overtime loss (thank goodness). The Thunder game was a hard L, but it could have gone either way for most of the contest — we’ll just have to live with that for now.
Now, what else are the Power Rankings saying this week?
Up first, the mystery men of ESPN get their say with Michael Schwartz leading the way:
2. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 3)
The Raptors’ franchise-record-tying 11-game winning streak was snapped by the Thunder on Sunday afternoon. During the streak, Toronto boasted the league’s best offense and fifth-best defense.
As if realizing their mistake, the bean counters at ESPN have managed to rectify the situation — albeit slightly. The Raptors never got to taste that number one spot on the Worldwide Leader’s website, but we’re not bitter about it. (And yes, OK, the Rockets put up a 4-0 week.)
Next up is our guy (who we’ve never met) Rohan Nadkarni on Sports Illustrated. Let fly, dude:
3. Toronto Raptors (52–18)
Last Week: 1
For all the talk about Toronto’s depth and if it will be as important come playoff time, people may be overlooking how good the Raptors’ starters have been. Toronto’s starting five of DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valanciunas and OG Anunoby has the fourth-best net rating in the league among lineups that have played at least 300 minutes.
Admittedly, this is maybe not the best time to bring up Toronto’s starters. DeRozan had a bit of an off week, shooting-wise; Kyle Lowry took a game off for rest; Serge Ibaka was all over the place; Jonas Valanciunas got worked by the Thunder (and Al Jefferson?); and OG Anunoby just made it back for half the week — and didn’t do that much. Still, Rohan, in solidarity: yes, I agree, we should talk about how boss the Raptors are more.
But what of Dr. John Schuhmann at NBA.com. He finally ceded the top spot to Toronto last week, how about this time out?
2. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 1)
Pace: 100.1 (13) OffRtg: 111.5 (3) DefRtg: 103.1 (4) NetRtg:+8.4 (3)
The Raptors have trailed at the half in six of their last eight games, ranking 27th in first-half defense over that stretch. They had been able to lock down in the second half as their winning streak reached 11 games, but couldn’t get the stops (or the calls) they needed down the stretch against the Thunder on Sunday. The silver lining is that the loss wasn’t about their clutch offense, which has been much better since the All-Star break (111 points scored per 100 possessions) that it was before (99). The Raptors still have four games against the Cavs and Celtics (two against both), though there might not be much to take away from their game in Cleveland on Wednesday. The Cavs will be shorthanded and the Raps will have played in Orlando the night before.
Stone cold correct once again. (And it is extremely heartening to read about that improvement in the clutch offense. Kudos, team!)
Finally, what does the wild man of CBS Sports, Chris Barnewall, have to say about the Raptors in this week’s round-up?
2. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 1)
The Raptors have one of the most exciting duos in the league. DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry have been through it all with the Raptors and they’ve finally turned into a fearsome star duo. It helps that they’re also great friends, which creates some interesting banter between the two.
Now, on to the poll.
Are the Raptors being ranked fairly in Week 22 of the Power Rankings?
This poll is closed
No, what’s this? One loss and back down the mountain? Outrageous!
Yes, sure, fine, whatever. Is the regular season over yet?
No, just roll me up in a carpet, man
Yes, I do so enjoy this professional basketball game. I shall watch another!