Consider the high moment of this past week for a second, and let it marinate for a bit. Down five players on the injury report, with two guys already fouled out and a ridiculous officiating margin overall, and on the road in one of the most menacing gyms in the NBA — the Raptors beat the Celtics. By 16 points, no less! They barely ever trailed!
I’m choosing to put that win ahead of the three losses that surrounded it, but I’m probably more of an optimist (and less neutral) than the Power Ranking gods above me. Yes, the Raptors also lost to the Celtics on Christmas Day. They ran into a hot shooting Pacers team and couldn’t finish a comeback in overtime. They hate a late game meltdown against the Thunder.
These things should be expected of a team dealing with a number of high-level injuries. Even the phenomenal play of Kyle Lowry might not be enough for a Raptors team that has barely any rest for the next week. Still, though, they’re in the midst of the standings in the Eastern Conference; and as you’ll see here, the NBA family is being more than fair after a subpar week.
Let’s start with ESPN’s Andre Snellings, who keeps things steady for Toronto.
7. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 6)
Seven of the top eight players in the Raptors’ rotation have missed at least five games this season, including current absences from Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol and Norman Powell. Despite the injuries, the Raptors remain in contention in the East and continue to pull off signature wins like Saturday’s blowout of the Celtics and last week’s historic comeback over the Mavericks. Chris Boucher, Patrick McCaw, OG Anunoby and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson have each stepped up with big efforts to support central figures Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet and Serge Ibaka during this stretch.
No mention of the losses at all! I like this guy.
On to Zach Harper of the Athletic, who’s handing out New Year’s resolutions to every team and looks to the gods when judging the Raptors.
10. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 9)
What’s happening with the Raptors? Toronto salvaged its week with the win over Boston on Saturday, but the loss to Boston and Indiana before that was a bit of a reality check. The Raptors are surviving pretty well during the Marc Gasol and Pascal Siakam injuries. They had that big comeback against Dallas, but they also couldn’t quite complete a comeback against Indiana in that overtime loss. Big comebacks are inherently fluky. It’s good they show resiliency, but I’d rather not see Toronto find itself in big holes early in games right now.
New Year’s resolution: Need to get everybody healthy. It’s as simple as that. They’ve been one of the best stories in the NBA this season. Siakam has been brilliant. Kyle Lowry has been fantastic. Fred VanVleet has been killer, and we know about the development of some of their hidden gems. But it won’t matter if the Raptors can’t get healthy. A healthy Toronto team can disrupt the East. A battered Raptors team will simply annoy the East. They need to close that gap between the outcomes and it’s strictly tied to their team health.
I also think the Raptors should get healthy. We still haven’t really seen what this team’s rotation would look like fully formed post-bench breakout in November. That’s where my curiosity lies.
Now, what does Dr. John Schuhmann have for us?
10. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 10)
The absence of three of the Raptors’ top seven guys has seemingly begun to take its toll. After winning their first two games without Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol and Norman Powell, the champs have lost three of their last four, allowing the Pacers and Celtics to score more than 115 points per 100 possessions on Monday and Wednesday, and coming empty on offense (17 points on 20 possessions) in the fourth quarter against Oklahoma City on Sunday. They had leads in the final minute of regulation in two of the three losses and their win in Boston on Saturday was their best road win since early November, but Kyle Lowry (averaging 25.3 points and 8.0 assists over the last six games) and janky defenses may only be able to take them so far while they wait on Siakam and company to return. After splitting with the Celtics last week, the Raps are 1-6 in games played between the top six teams in the East, with a visit to Miami on Thursday.
Again, no movement despite a 1-3 week! The people are watching the Raptors and know what’s going on. The guys were an intentional foul away from winning one game and an Aaron Holiday away from the other!
Finally, the Matt Moore memorial section, now owned by Colin Ward-Henninger of CBS Sports.
10. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 6)
The Raptors deserve a ton of credit for not just surviving, but thriving with the various injuries that they’ve endured all season. Without leading scorer Pascal Siakam, starting center Marc Gasol and key contributor Norman Powell, Toronto had a 1-3 week with losses to the Pacers, Celtics and Thunder. They got revenge on the Celtics in Boston, however, two days after Christmas in an impressive win. The Raptors are a serious Eastern Conference threat -- they just need to have all their guys playing at the same time.
The list of names in their order are Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol, and Norman Powell — in case you didn’t know. Pray they get healthy, the rest of the NBA community is doing the same.
On to the poll!
Are the Raptors being ranked fairly in Week 11 of the Power Rankings?
This poll is closed
No, haven’t you heard Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol, and Norman Powell are injured?
Yes, Top 10 is cool with me
No, I need more superlatives for Kyle Lowry
Yes, I am a Chris Paul Travelled truther