The past week was a good week for the Raptors: they added three wins to their 42-16 record and picked up 34-year-old Marc Gasol. It felt like an unsettled week, with the Raptors, at one point, playing with nine players against the Hawks. The Toronto ball club also said goodbye to Jonas Valanciunas, C.J. Miles and Delon Wright and weirdly, two of those players played against former Raptor great DeMar DeRozan last night. Meaning: Raptors’ souls are everywhere.
The schedule, meanwhile, is slow for the next two weeks thanks to the NBA All-Star Weekend, which kicks off Friday night. Ahead of the Wizards match up tonight, here’s what hot and not in Toronto this week:
On Track for 60 Wins
The Raptors have continued to notch up consistent results in the New Year. So far, they’re 15-5 in 20 games in 2019, including two five-game winning streaks. With a 42-16 record, at this rate, the Raptors are on course to produce a 60-win regular season based on a 72 percent winning record. This means the Raptors would need to go 18-6 from their remaining 24 games to break their previous record of 59 wins in a season set last year under Dwane Casey’s watch. Can they do it? Yes they can. Is it important? Well, in the last five years, the Warriors, Spurs, Rockets and Hawks have all broken the 60-win barrier; the Warriors three times, the Spurs twice. The Raptors would become the fifth NBA team to break 60 wins in the last five years and more importantly to note: all teams who had 60 or more wins, made the Conference Finals or NBA Finals, with the exception of the 2015 Spurs, ousted in the Conference Semi-finals after a 61-game regular season.
Siakam Steps Up
Not that we needed more proof that Pascal Siakam is having a breakout year, a coming of age year, but he stepped up against the Hawks when it mattered. OK, the Hawks haven’t offered much competition this season and are a rebuilding young team, but the Raptors were down to nine players for that one and it was in Atlanta. Siakam chalked up 40 minutes, with 33 points, 14 rebounds and four assists. Massive output from an emerging and raw talent with no ceiling yet.
Powell In Good Touch
In the last three outings, Norman Powell has been the best bench-role player for the Raptors. In hit double digits in two of the three games in the last week, lines of 11-2-2 and 14-1-3. Patrick McCaw was the other bench standout, but Powell is starting to click again as a role player, which is good news for the Raptors as good depth players are hard to find.
Three-Point Shot Still A Worry
The Raptors percentage for the three point shot in the last three games read: 32, 40, and 29. We are coming into the All-Star break and the three-point shooting still has not resolved itself. The Raptors season average is 34 percent, which needs to improve. The good NBA teams are hovering between 37 to 40 percent consistently. The Spurs (40%), Clippers (38%) and Warriors (38%) lead the league in three-point shooting. The Raptors invested in Gasol who replaced JV in a lateral move, and missed what could have been a big opportunity to get a sharp-shooter.
Losing JV and C.J.
Yes, the NBA is a business, but Raptors fans will miss Jonas Valanciunas and C.J. Miles. Both are good men and both had great qualities and character that helped made the Raptors’ ball club what it is today. To lose that over some lateral parts, I’m not sure it was worth it. The Raptors gained similar output-production, but have lost some fabric and culture which can be important factors come playoff time.