The Raptors just had to go and complicate things. In what was a thoroughly satisfying week, they found a way — through faults of their own and circumstances beyond their control — to add a dash of salty frustration into the mix. This is the Toronto way, and it does nothing if not generate a little chaos in our thinking about the team. Yes, the Raptors are still good, blowing out the Celtics and fending off the Blazers is proof of that; but did they really need to lose in overtime to the Pistons? Really?
It’s fitting that the Raptors have taken to trotting out the trio of Norman Powell, Patrick McCaw, and OG Anunoby at the same time in recent games. The scoring opportunities those three create are limited (often frustratingly so), but the amount of just straight up noise — of chaos energy — they put into the universe is high. That the Raptors can play basketball with two super geniuses in Kyle Lowry and Marc Gasol, plus the uber-talented Kawhi Leonard, while also employing and applying the Norm-McCaw-OG chaos trio summarizes something about this team. Is it special? Is it unique? I don’t know — but it is something.
Let’s get to this week’s Power Rankings to really decide how the Raptors are doing.
First up, ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz goes full elderly woman behind the counter in a small town in changing by not changing at all:
3. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 3)
We know the Raptors are dangerous, and with the recent acquisitions that has never been more true. The question that has loomed for much of the season has surrounded whether a unit that has been together only sporadically has logged enough time on the floor to fully realize its potential. Load management aside, the quartet of Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam have outscored opponents by 21.9 points per 100 possessions since the All-Star break, whether Marc Gasol or Serge Ibaka is the man in the middle.
So then, hmm, what’s the problem?
Over at Sports Illustrated, Khadrice Rollins continues to just straight up appreciate the ritual:
7. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 7)
19: Games Pascal Siakam scored at least 20 points
During his first two seasons, Pascal Siakam’s career high was 20 points, and he reached that mark once. In 63 games this season, Siakam, who now averages 16.3 points and 7.0 rebounds, has shown he’s improved by leaps and bounds as a scorer, and he’s looking more and more like the perfect third wheel to Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry.
Again I must ask: what is the problem? And what’s more: why are the Raptors ranked behind the Blazers whom they... defeated this past week? My head is spinning.
At the same time, Dr. John Schuhmann of NBA dot com remembers when he swore he knew everything:
3. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 5)
With their easy win over the Celtics last week, the Raptors remained undefeated (now 9-0) on Tuesdays and finished a somewhat inconclusive 8-7 (5-4 in games with both Kyle Lowry and Kawhi Leonard) against the four other good teams in the East. They blew the Boston game open with a formula borrowed from a couple of seasons ago: Kyle Lowry and the bench at the start of the second quarter. That second unit included Marc Gasol, who started games against the Blazers and Pistons later in the week, missed a great look to win the game in Detroit, and has still played just 51 total minutes (and only eight against potential Eastern Conference playoff teams) alongside both of the Raptors’ two All-Stars. Leonard continues to have his load managed, but, with his game-winner against Portland on Friday, now leads the league with seven buckets (on 14 attempts) to tie or take the lead in the final minute of the fourth quarter or overtime.
Continuing a theme: is there a problem here? Perhaps it would be nice to have a better record against the East’s top competition, I agree, but there’s something special in how to deploy Gasol, Lowry, and Kawhi that it may not matter as much in the playoffs. Gasol and Lowry can coax more out of the bench, Kawhi can be trusted to win games down the stretch, and the team keeps rolling. Maybe we know more than we think — we’re just waiting to see how it plays out.
Finally, let’s all try to hold on to the thread here for CBS Sports and Reid Forgrave:
3. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 3)
Preseason projected win total: 58.0. Currently on pace for: 58.9. Difference: +0.9 wins. Still my pick to make the NBA Finals from the East. This team feels built for the postseason.
Yep, and we will be there once more.
Now, let’s go to the poll.
Are the Raptors being ranked fairly in Week 20 of the Power Rankings?
This poll is closed
No, I don’t understand why we need to yield here!
Yes, it’s good, but we’ve yet to see this team do the evolution
Yes, and will these Pearl Jam references make sense or are you just casting about at random?