For those who play basketball, there’s a thing that sometimes happens when a pass comes your way and you know exactly what you want to do with it. What’s supposed to happen is you catch the pass and make the play you wanted — a shot, a swing pass, some fancy foot work to set something else up, etc. But sometimes you are already thinking so hard about that next action, looking forward so intently, that the ball slips off your fingers. In that moment, the anticipation of the thing overtakes the actual thing, wiping out that preferred outcome from even happening.
That’s where the Raptors are right now after a 2-2 week and more than a few quarters of just straight up disinterested basketball. They’ve been giving the ball away, failing to box out, leaving shooters open, and a whole host of bad habits. Their two wins were marked by different problems — injury in one, and a crunch time collapse in the other — but the consistent theme remains: let’s just make it to the end of these games and the end of this regular season.
In truth, it’s not the worth sentiment to have. While we don’t necessarily want the Raptors to let the ball slip off their fingertips here, we have to acknowledge that these games don’t mean a whole lot standings-wise. In other words, it’s worth it to just look ahead and anticipate that fixed future. There are things Toronto is doing to improve themselves internally, and in that there is value — but only in that. The rest of it will only come later. In that spirit, let’s see what the Power Rankers have for us.
First up, Tim McMahon of ESPN has us wondering what happened to Kevin Arnovitz. Should we be concerned?
5. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 4)
It’s a fine time for a soft stretch in the schedule for the Raptors, who have lost six of their past 11 games and are fresh off getting beat by Jeremy Lamb’s hand-in-his-face, half-court heave at the buzzer. Toronto gets to face the Bulls twice and the Knicks this week.
This post was as light as the upcoming week will be for Toronto. We don’t need to relive the absurdity of last night’s deep bomb from Lamb. But I do want to note that at one point against Charlotte the Raptors were being cooked by (Dwayne) Bacon and Lamb. Just an all-out meat assault. I did not care for it.
Next up, Khadrice Rollins puts aside his poetry binge from last week to get to the point on Sports Illustrated:
8. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 7)
Were you seriously expecting this to be about anything or anybody else?
After what he did in Oklahoma City?
Next season, Siakam is going to be an All-Star and officially make the leap into being one of the most liked and rooted for players in the league. Hopefully he accelerates that process by showing out in the playoffs.
Which he probably will do, because when has Pascal Siakam disappointed this season?
The answer is never.
Despite putting the Raptors even lower this week (behind even the Clippers, who are not a team that inspires me much), Rollins has gone about naming one thing each team can be excited for in the future. For Toronto, he gets it exactly right: Spicy P.
Trust that Dr. John Schuhmann of NBA.com will pour some cold water on this mood though:
5. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 5)
Kyle Lowry says he’s not (and won’t be) 100 percent. But, after missing four of the previous five games, he played on Sunday and coach Nick Nurse had every player available for one of the first times this season. The result was one of the Raptors’ worst defensive games of the year, even if you discount Jeremy Lamb’s game-winning heave. The Raptors have scored 116.4 points per 100 possessions over their last five games (their best offensive stretch since January), with the top seven guys in their rotation all registering an effective field goal percentage better than 58 percent. But they’ve allowed more than 118 per 100 four times in the last two weeks, with none of those four opponents being top-10 offenses (though Detroit’s offense ranks No. 1 since the break). Their three games this week are against the teams that rank 29th and 30th offensively, because we’re not allowed to get a gauge on this team until May.
Damn, he got’em.
And finally, shooting from the hip as always, it’s Reid Forgrave of CBS Sports:
2. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 2)
Temperature: Warm and staying steady. Sure, the Raptors are only 8-7 since the All-Star game, and dropped an absolutely brutal one on Sunday to the Hornets on a Jeremy Lamb half-court buzzer-beater. But this team still feels built for the playoffs. Home-court is close to out of reach at this point -- the Raptors are four games shy of the Bucks. But they are comfortably clear of the Sixers. So now they ought to be able to rest up until the playoffs.
Reid should consider himself lucky! Despite swiping our Toronto Temperature gimmick — hardly the most original idea, I admit — he has continued to put the Raptors in at number two. I’m not sure the past seven days qualify them for the spot, but also: who am I to argue?
Now, on to the poll.
Are the Raptors being ranked fairly in Week 22 of the Power Rankings?
This poll is closed
No, they lost on some real podunk stuff
Yes, and I enjoyed your basketball playing analogy
No, this column is filled with rank hubris!
Yes, and I can’t believe I have to say this, but maybe we should all chill — especially that guy above