All told, it has not been a great week for the Raptors. Some of these bad vibes are because of the team’s recent losses — one to Philly, one to Miami — which bumped them back down to .500 after a brief taste of a winning record. But, of course, the real negative energy is coming from the recent postponement news. Yes, after moving to Tampa and dodging COVID-19 for months, the Raptors luck has run out. And now we don’t know what’s going on or when we’ll see the team again.
It makes for some tough reflection now. The Raptors went 1-2 over the past week, and maybe could have evened that up had they played the upstart Bulls on Sunday as scheduled. Except now we have to wonder and worry about Pascal Siakam and Toronto’s coaching staff who all may be out for at least another week. In this, we know we won’t see Siakam until after the All-Star break — and we have no idea what’s going on with Nick Nurse and his staff. It makes for unsettling times, even if, as people have said, we knew it to be inevitable given the circumstances.
Nevertheless, the Power Ranking People carry on, which means we’ll look at how the Raptors are being ranked. But, hoo boy, let’s just hope everyone is still healthy.
First up, the ESPN crew sets Tim Bontemps loose for another go-around here:
13. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 14)
After Sunday’s game against the Bulls got postponed due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, only three teams — the Lakers, Clippers and Nets — have avoided a postponement this season. Toronto’s two contests this week are in jeopardy, as well. If they aren’t played, the Raptors will have to try to fit their remaining 39 games into just 67 days in the second half of the season.
Do the math on that: 39 games into 67 days shakes out to an almost unconscionable workload. At a basic level, 39 games should require at least 78 days in a one-day-on, one-day-off structure. This means the Raptors’ are going to be run through a serious wringer for the rest of 2021 — which, if you ask me, doesn’t quite seem fair. Yes, even if every other team is also dealing with postponed games and a compressed schedule.
Does Zach Harper of the Athletic think this is all fair? Let’s see what his take is this week.
13. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 9)
The X-Factor role player: Chris Boucher
For the first month of the season, everybody was throwing their Most Improved Player support to Christian Wood in Houston. But he hasn’t played in a very long time, and Boucher has actually done quite a bit to make this a very tough argument for anybody else to be a frontrunner for the award. He’s already one of the best rim protectors in the NBA, and he’s knocking down jumpers at roughly 6-foot-10. He still needs to get a bit stronger and find ways to be more comfortable attacking closeouts off the dribble, but we’re a little over a year away from Boucher getting crazy paid as a free agent. He’s huge for the Raptors’ climb up the East.
Why are they ranked here? A couple of teams surging knock them down a couple of spots, and the only win the Raptors got this week was over a horrendous Houston squad.
Harper’s optimistic take on Boucher — who I don’t think will actually end up in the MIP discussion at all — makes this whole entry quite enjoyable to read. The Raptors did indeed not do themselves any favours on the court this past week, and I suppose that’s that.
The check-in with Dr. John Schuhmann of NBA dot com could very well be the difference maker this week. Let’s go:
14. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 12)
Over their last 20 games, the Raptors have had Kyle Lowry, OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam all available just twice. And Lowry left one of those two games early in the third quarter. They’re 12-8 over that stretch, with seven of the eight losses having been within five points in the last five minutes. Only the Bucks (from 17-7 to 4-8) have seen a bigger drop in clutch winning percentage than the Raptors, who now have as many losses in games that were within five in the last five (they’re 7-12) as they did last season (25-12).
The latest of those 12 losses came Tuesday and Wednesday in games they made interesting after trailing by as many as 21 and 15 points, respectively. They outscored the bigger Sixers by 24 points in the paint, but allowed 10 or more corner 3s (the Sixers had 11) for the third time this season. A night later, the Raptors were a +9 from beyond the arc against the more 3-happy Heat, but were outscored by 21 (61-40) in the paint and from the free throw line.
With the loss to Miami, the Raptors are 5-5 in games played between the seven teams in that 4-10 scrum in the Eastern Conference. That includes two losses to the Celtics in which Boston allowed more than 119 points per 100 possessions. The season series is scheduled to wrap on Thursday, with the Raptors currently dealing with COVID-related absences among both the players and coaches.
On the plus side here, maybe the brief time off, coupled with the All-Star break (which Toronto will truly enjoy as a break), will give the Raptors enough space to get as healthy as they’ve been otherwise all year. When the Raptors are whole? Hey, they’re pretty good! This is all null and void, though, depending on the outcome of the COVID-related traces. On that particular flip side, grim times could abound.
And finally, once again, we let CBS Sports’ Colin Ward-Henninger get the last word:
14. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 7)
Toronto lost to the 76ers and Heat to start the week before having its coaching staff decimated by health and safety protocols. Pascal Siakam was also held out of Friday’s win over the Rockets before Sunday’s matchup with the Bulls was postponed due to not having enough available players. This is a rough bump in the road for a team that looked like it was starting to put things together. On the bright side, Kyle Lowry was phenomenal in two games this week after returning from a thumb injury, averaging 22 points, nine rebounds and nine assists on 8-for-12 3-point shooting.
Another huge swing from Colin, which, given how quickly things went from “awesome” to “oh no, this is bad”, seems fair in this context. Again, the Raptors’ ranking this week is secondary right now. Let’s hope we get some good news soon about the status of the team — to say nothing of their upcoming games.
Now, onto the poll.
Are the Raptors being ranked fairly in Week 10 of the Power Rankings?
This poll is closed
No, have a heart and bump them up!
Yes, and this is not the most important matter of the week
No, grim grim grim grim grim
Yes, how is it possible to even play that much basketball in such a short period of time? Has anyone thought about this yet?