The Raptors won a game! Boy howdy, did they ever win the hell out of that game. It’s funny to consider the fact that the Raptors have won two games since March 1st and both have been comical blowouts of increasing scale. Meanwhile, the losses, well, many of them have been close, or near-comebacks, or embarrassing giveaways in every type of fashion. Nothing too inspiring, is my point.
And yet, when the Raptors lay a 60-point hurt on the totally listless Warriors — yes, the lead got as big as 60 points — it recalls some basic facts about this team. Sure, we can of course say that Golden State minus their best players are not much of a team, but we could also say the same about a tanking Oklahoma City Thunder squad or a hapless last-placed Detroit Pistons team too. A win that big has to augur for something more positive than what we’ve been seeing. Those aforementioned basic facts are that they have some talented players that can play basketball really well together.
Still, that hasn’t been enough this season for various reasons, and it has put Toronto in the situation they find themselves in today. With that, we must return to the well of the Power Rankings to draw on that wisdom for the past week.
First up, as always, the sage-like and blazer-ed Tim Bontemps of ESPN will address us first:
23. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 24)
With their rout of the Warriors Friday night, it took the Raptors two days to equal their win total for the entire month of March. That pretty much sums up the disaster that Toronto’s season has been since getting to 17-17 after a 2-8 start — only to be devastated by COVID-19 issues. On the bright side: Despite their immense struggles, the Raptors are still just 1.5 games behind Chicago for 10th place in the East and a spot in the play-in tournament.
Oh, that 1.5 games is so tantalizing, isn’t it? The Raptors are in a weird lane right now in that they still have a lot of talent — a squad playing Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, and Fred VanVleet will get some places on most nights. Add in Gary Trent Jr. (who seems great so far!) and Kyle Lowry (when he’s healthy) and the Raptors are good. Then again, playing Aron Baynes at all right now suggests the team is at least open to the idea of losing. And then there are those two open roster spots that could be used to shore up the team’s sometimes quite bad rotation. That’s a losing move too.
On to the next one, let’s get at what Zach Harper of the Athletic has to say of the situation for Toronto:
21. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 23)
OG Anunoby as a piece moving forward is something the Toronto Raptors and their fans are understandably excited about. Anunoby has always been intriguing. Many people felt if he hadn’t hurt his knee in college, he would’ve been a lottery pick. Instead, he fell into the Raptors’ hands, and they’re able to see what he can make of himself. He’s missed plenty of time this season, but we’re seeing the type of progression that excites so many people. He’s turned himself into a reliable 3-point shooter. He’s a dynamite defender. His finishing around the rim has become elite too. I’d like to see some more on-ball skills offensively, but Anunoby is right on schedule as the Raptors retool this coming offseason.
Why are they ranked here? Yes, they demolished the Warriors, and that had to feel really good for Raptors fans. But in the same week, they lost to Detroit and OKC. Moving up one spot says more about Chicago and Sacramento than Toronto this week.
OG APPRECIATION POST!
(That’s all I feel like saying about the above blurb: OG good.)
The doctor of NBA dot com won’t let us off that lightly though. Here’s what Dr. John Schuhmann has to add about the Raptors this week:
25. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 25)
The Raptors have now lost their last 10 games that were within five points in the last five minutes. They were within four with less than five minutes left in Oklahoma City on Wednesday, only to score just once on their final nine possessions. Pascal Siakam had another big shot go halfway down before popping back out. And with their 53-point win over the Warriors on Friday, the Raptors have a positive point differential (+25 for the season) with a 19-30 record. They’re 13-12 in games determined by double-digits and 6-18 in games decided by nine points or fewer.
The struggles of the Pacers and Bulls have kept the Play-In club door open. But the Raptors just lost to the Pistons and Thunder, allowing two bottom-10 offenses to score almost 117 points per possessions, with fouls (Detroit and OKC combined for 72 free throw attempts) still a problem. Kyle Lowry is out with a foot infection and, with a make-up game against the Bulls squeezed into the schedule this week, the Raptors are set to play eight games over the next 12 days.
It’s worth mentioning that a 53-point win does wonders for a team’s point differential, but that stat up there (+25 with a 19-30 record) is still quite comical. Would the Raptors have won all those close games they were in? Maybe, maybe not. Is it just bad luck? I mean, some of it surely is. It does suggest, however, a slightly less solid team than last year’s version, if nothing else. Maybe the Raptors were due for this kind of regression.
Finally, a lonely nation turns its eyes to Colin Ward-Henninger at CBS Sports for the good news:
25. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 24)
The Raptors lost to two of the worst teams in the league, the Pistons and Thunder, then obliterated a Warriors squad without Steph Curry or Draymond Green. That’s now 16 losses in Toronto’s last 19 games, as it just hasn’t been able to get any rhythm in the second half of the season. Gary Trent Jr. has made a big impression since coming over in the Norm Powell deal, averaging 23.3 points on 15-for-27 3-pointers in three games this week.
A real good-bad dichotomy this week for the Raptors, which is summed up neatly by the notorious CWH. The Raptors lost two winnable games, then demolished a third bad team; meanwhile they have no rhythm — which is true — but their newest member, soon-to-be fan favourite Trent Jr. is lighting it up. I can think of no better note to end on than that. Up, down, good, bad, we carry on.
Now, onto the poll.
Are the Raptors being ranked fairly in Week 15 of the Power Rankings?
This poll is closed
No, how often does a team take a 60-POINT LEAD???
Yes, perhaps the league’s mechanics are a bit broken if a 60-point lead is possible
No, fool’s gold all around me
Yes, and it sure is getting nice outside