The Raptors continue playing down (and up) to their competition. According to Basketball-Reference.com, Toronto has played one of the easier schedules in the league. With close games against teams on both ends of the contender spectrum — Milwaukee and Sacramento alone this week — the Raptors continue playing with fire and have, more often than not, been burned.
Despite the frustration, there have been positive signs, none of which has been more surprising than Yuta Watanabe. His relentless energy, coupled with Kyle Lowry’s recent milestone of 10,000 career points as a Raptor, made this week’s episode less calamitous to record.
Stay until the end for some All-Star trivia! I blame the sting of the Raptors’ loss for forgetting some blatantly obvious answers.
In This Episode:
2:41 — Whistleblowers
It’s too convenient to blame the loss on a controversial technical foul call on Lowry — his second of the game and an automatic ejection — with four seconds remaining in a one-score game. It masks what was an unevenly called game by the referees that included four technical fouls and the second highest number of fouls called in a Raptors game this season.
13:33 — YUTA-man
When the Raptors finally picked up their defensive intensity to start the fourth quarter, it should no longer be a surprise that Watanabe was on the floor. He has quickly become a fan favourite and, seemingly, a Nurse favourite too. Yuta is a plus defender with the right size, speed, and court awareness to warrant more playing time (and conversion from his two-way contract status).
18:10 — 10K magic
The G.R.O.A.T. had himself a week and is justly receiving his flowers. Lowry deserved to reach this milestone in front of a rabid and appreciative Scotiabank Arena crowd. That he reached his 10,000th point in an empty arena in Tampa, Florida is probably more to his liking.
25:00 — 7 up, 12 down
True or False: The Raptors are who they are. The quarter mark of the season is typically where teams have a good indication of where they stand. Last season at this point, Toronto was second in the East with one of the best defensive units. This season, they’re an underachieving team with an unbalanced roster that does not consistently excel on either side of the ball.
30:45 — #NBAAllStar
All-Star voting has kicked off and the Raptors, as they are in the standings, are on the outside looking in. Whether or not Toronto will have an All-Star selection for an eighth consecutive season remains to be seen. What we do know is that Toronto has sent plenty of players to the mid-season classic. How much do you know and remember about the Raptors and All-Star Weekend?