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Power Rankings Poll Week 20: Rid your anxieties

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Maybe the Raptors aren’t inspiring all your confidence. Damn it, they’re winning though.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Toronto Raptors Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Raptors continue to vex and impress, though certainly impress more than they vex. It was a 4-0 week for this super-satisfying club, and while an uninspiring defensive effort in Washington and an avalanche of missed shots vs. Charlotte make you feel bad — it’s all about the end result. Four and oh baby!!

Of course, there are still big concerns. OG Anunoby’s injured ankle has him in a walking boot, and the combination of Malcolm Miller and Norm Powell hasn’t been inspiring — minutes with C.J. Miles at the three have also been... fine. The team is “tanking” for crunch time reps, getting some light work against the Hornets but otherwise leaving that question out in the ether. We still haven’t seen peak Kyle Lowry in a couple weeks (I’m an impatient person, okay?). It adds up, in it’s own way.

Life would be nothing without its challenges, though, and certainly the life of a Raptors fan isn’t real without crippling anxiety. In the broader scheme, Toronto has a very, very good basketball team — and here we are, looking at the national press, who respect the hell out of them.

Let’s see where the Raptors fall in this week’s collection of Power Rankings.

Starting with the Beasts from Bristol, ESPN is holding the Raptors steady at the third spot. James Jackson is the man with the caption this week:

3. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 3)

The Raptors haven’t lost consecutive games since Jan. 15 and haven’t suffered a double-digit loss since Dec. 27 against the Thunder. Toronto ranks among the top five in offensive efficiency (fifth), defensive efficiency (second) and net efficiency (third). Though they’re only two games ahead of Boston for the East’s top seed, this team might boast the most viable Finals hopes in franchise history.

Man, ESPN has been insufferable on TV when it comes to Toronto basketball — the latest came today from the lovely talent at First Take — but the trajectory is only going up online. Last week, they were talking about the Raptors’ chances at an Eastern Conference title. Now, we’re talking Finals. I like it.

Next up, Rohan Nadkarni at Sports Illustrated:

3. Toronto Raptors (45–17)
Last Week: 3

The Raptors have lost only twice since the start of February by a combined six points. Toronto deserves to be the favorite to make the Finals in the East.

My word, another Finals reference! This February to remember is clearly changing minds in the board offices across America. I mean, yes, they missed an obscure point differential record by one point — but obviously this doesn’t mean a lot to the powers that be.

Will John Schuhmann at NBA.com keep the positivity train rolling?

3. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 3)

Record: 45-17

Pace: 100.3 (10) OffRtg: 110.9 (4) DefRtg: 102.6 (3) NetRtg: +8.3 (3)

The Raptors’ depth is so good, they can lose a starter (OG Anunoby) to injury, insert a guy who has played 29 minutes all season (Malcolm Miller), and not skip a beat. Replacing Anunoby with Norman Powell didn’t really work last week (and hasn’t worked much this season), but Miller kept things moving in limited minutes against Washington and Charlotte over the weekend. The Raptors have of the best eight lineups in the league (minimum 200 minutes); Their five-man bench unit has outscored its opponents by 24.2 points per 00 possessions and their regular starters have outscored their opponents by 12.1. But their most-used lineup in the clutch has been reserve Fred VanVleet with the other four starters. Their numbers have been solid (plus-5.1 per 100 possessions), but not spectacular with VanVleet on the floor with both Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan.

I love Mr. Schuh (can I call you that, John?) because he so clearly comes with the receipts every week. This dude watches the Toronto Raptors, and saw how the team thrived despite a random small forward rotation. Also, the bench numbers never get old. Thank you, Mr. Schuh.

Finally, we wrap with Chris Barnewall of CBS Sports, who did a [throws confetti] player award theme for this week’s rankings!

3. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 3)

DeMar DeRozan isn’t going to win Most Improved Player or MVP, but he deserves consideration for both awards. The Raptors have been the best team in the East this season, and DeRozan’s improvements are a big part. Dwane Casey also deserves some credit in Coach of the Year voting.

No beef with the DeRozan comments — he won’t win MVP, but deserves to have his name thrown about in that discussion. I would argue that Dwane Casey is the frontrunner for Coach of the Year, though, as opposed to someone who should just get credit.

Anyway, we hit for the cycle. Four top-three rankings for the Raptors, and now we must get to the poll.

Poll

Are the Raptors being ranked fairly in Week 20 of the Power Rankings?

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    No, Steph NOT better
    (35 votes)
  • 82%
    Yes, I love the number three and all the writer’s symmetry it provides
    (282 votes)
  • 2%
    No, I’m a Boston Celtics fan (CLICK FOR LINK TO POLICE)
    (9 votes)
  • 4%
    Yes, I watched Glee and got your reference
    (16 votes)
342 votes total Vote Now