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The Rap-Up: How the tables have tourneyed

Toronto have an East-centric week ahead, including a pair of In-Season Tournament games. Can the Raptors run the table this week?

Photo by Zou Zheng/Xinhua via Getty Images

The Toronto Raptors finished last week as most would predict — beating two of the worst teams in the East while falling to two of the best. So, how will they perform against the murky middle?

Pascal Siakam is officially back to looking like an All-NBA forward. Scottie Barnes is continuing his ascension to (All-)stardom. OG Anunoby is back to terrorizing all opposing superstars. Gary Trent Jr. is back in the lineup and seems to have rediscovered his outside stroke. Chris Boucher has reminded us all that he’s still an Agent of Chaos.

Despite a disheartening loss to the Giannis-less Bucks (fake comeback, anyone?), the effort against the Celtics (without Anunoby too) and record-setting drubbing against the Pistons has me drinking the juice. Are the vibes back?

November 21 @ Orlando Magic

Remember how the Raptors started slowly against the Wizards last week? They seemed flat-footed on defense — a possible side-effect from a 4-game road trip. Here’s hoping that happens to Orlando, as they return from a 4-game road trip to kick off a six-game homestand against Toronto.

The Magic continues its uphill climb in Round Robin play of the In-Season Tournament. Similar to the Raptors, Orlando lost its opening game and essentially made all remaining group games must-win. A perfect 4-0 record is not possible for either team, yet very possible for the Celtics. Finishing the Round Robin with a 3-1 record gives that team the chance to qualify as a Wild Card with the best 2nd place record. Assuming at least 1 of the other 2 groups also produces a team with a 3-1 record, point differential will be the deciding factor.

The Raptors lost to the Celtics by only 3, while the Magic lost to the Nets by 20 (in addition to not playing group favourite Boston yet).

Fun fact that may only interest me

There are only 3 teams in the NBA with more than one player averaging at least 18 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal per game. I’ll give you a couple of paragraphs to think about which duos are actually quite dynamic.


The Raptors have won 12 of the last 15 meetings with the Magic. The three losses, however, all occurred fairly recently, in 2022. Toronto’s visit to Orlando last season — a doubleheader in early December — was seen as the turning point of the ill-fated campaign. The Raptors were 13-12 and had beaten the Magic one week prior.

Toronto wasted a 36-point effort from Pascal Siakam as Franz Wagner’s 34 points led Orlando to a win in the first game. Two days later, the Raptors laid an egg, losing by 12. They’d add four more losses to the streak and not reach .500 again until game #76.

Orlando been impressive to start the season. At 8-5, the Magic are living up to the preseason hype. However, it should be noted that they’ve only played two teams with a top-10 defense (win over the Rockets; loss to the Clippers). The adjustment in defensive intensity will be quite stark for Orlando’s young roster. Toronto wins ugly, 96-94, over Orlando.

Did you figure out the league’s most productive duos? The Heat (Jimmy Butler & Bam Adebayo), Clippers (Kawhi Leonard & Paul George), and Magic (Paolo Banchero & Franz Wagner).

November 22 @ Indiana Pacers

What a unique set of back-to-back games for the Raptors, shifting from one of the top defensive teams to one of the best on the offensive end.

The season-high (and 4th-highest in franchise history) 142 points the Raptors dropped on the Pistons on Sunday wouldn’t crack the top 2 for the Pacers this season. Indiana scored 143 in a season-opening win over the Wizards and 152 points on the Spurs — both in regulation.

Even with the boatload of points from the Pistons game, Toronto averages only 110.8 points per game. The Pacers have scored 121 points (not a typo) in 9 of its 12 games!

Fun fact that may only interest me

Number of 50/40/90 (FG% / 3PT FG% / FT%) seasons in NBA history: 16 (Steve Nash x 4, Larry Bird x 2, Kevin Durant x 2, Malcolm Brogdon, Jose Calderon, Steph Curry, Kyrie Irving, Steve Kerr, Reggie Miller, Dirk Nowitzki, Mark Price)

Number of 50/40/90 seasons with at least 20 points in NBA history: 7 (Bird x 2, Durant x 2, Curry, Irving, and Nowitzki)

Number of 50/40/90 seasons with at least 10 assists in NBA history: 3 (Nash x 3)

Number of 50/40/90 seasons with at least 20 points AND 10 assists in NBA history: 1 (if Tyrese Haliburton keeps his current pace)


Both teams fly into Indianapolis after playing the night before, with the Pacers playing its third In-Season Tournament game in Atlanta. A couple of factors might play in the Raptors’ favour.

With tournament victories over the Cavaliers and Sixers already in the books, the Pacers should presumably throw everything but the kitchen sink at the Hawks (with the Pistons as its only remaining tournament game) in hopes of locking up the top spot in the group. Whether it’s the emotional letdown from the Hawks game or getting caught looking forward to a potential group-clinching game against the Pistons two nights later, the Pacers could be caught flat-footed against a Raptors team suited to beat them.

Indiana’s defense is not great (28th). The Pacers have allowed at least 111 points in every game this season (bet the Over on Toronto exceeding its season average). Rick Carlisle’s defense is predicated on limiting the expense of interior defense. Indiana is #1 in three-point field goals allowed (made or attempted), but dead last in shots allowed at the rim. That’s another factor that should work in Toronto’s favour as they perform better when winning the points in the paint battle (while not needing threes).

Add in the fact that Indiana ranks 30th in transition points allowed per play from live rebounds, 29th in transition points allowed off steals, and 30th in transition points allowed per play overall, and that is music to the Raptors’ transition-hungry ears!

The Raptors keep Haliburton in check and beat the Pacers, 120-116.

November 24 vs Chicago Bulls

The Raptors’ only home game this week is a special one. Yes, folks, it’s the highly anticipated return of Diar DeRozan!

Actually, it’s the third In-Season Tournament game and final (already?) home game of the round-robin for the Raptors. Oh, beautiful court design, we barely knew you.

Chicago has, predictably, taken a step backward this season and has initiated ‘Project Recoup Assets.’ I don’t typically share my bad trade ideas until closer to the deadline but since it’s a relatively hot topic, I’ll share one:

Bulls receive: Gary Trent Jr., Markelle Fultz, and a future 1st from Toronto

Magic receive: Chris Boucher, Thad Young, and a future 2nd from Toronto

Raptors receive: Zach LaVine and tickets to Disney World for Diar whenever the Bulls visit Scotiabank Arena

Fun fact that may only interest me

The first time DeMar DeRozan and Thaddeus Young played against each other was all the way back in January 2010 when DeRozan’s Raptors visited Young’s Sixers in Philadelphia. Toronto won 108-106, despite an 18-point, 13-rebound performance from Young, who logged over 46 minutes (lol)!

The starting point guard for the Raptors was Jarrett Jack, which is a convenient excuse for me to post this incredible find at Centrepoint Mall.


Are we all in agreement that the Raptors would have won in Chicago when these teams met on October 27th if OG Anunoby had not left the game in the 4th with an injury? DeRozan scored 18(!) points in the final five minutes of regulation after he was freed from Anunoby’s defense.

To ensure OG is ready for this important matchup, the Raptors have removed all sharp objects from Anunoby’s kitchen.

With DeRozan presumably locked up, and LaVine not really locked in, Toronto should be able to take care of business against a Chicago offense that ranks 29th in eFG% and ranks among the worst in transition defense. The Raptors beat the Bulls, 109-96.

November 26 @ Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavaliers started its season with a win, followed by a three-game losing streak, then one of the five hardest schedules to open the season, and currently hover around .500.

Does that sound familiar?

Toronto and Cleveland may not have equal schedules, but they both definitely played the Pistons.

Fun fact that may only interest me

Donovan Mitchell can shoulder an entire offense all onto himself. Evan Mobley is already a mainstay in the Defensive Player of the Year conversations every year.



The Cavaliers will be playing the second game of a back-to-back after hosting the Lakers. As of now, Donovan Mitchell is dealing with a hamstring issue while Caris LeVert and Isaac Okoro have missed time due to left knee injuries. This posting is six days in advance of the game, so a lot can change with the injury report, but it’s probably safe to say the Cavs might be short-handed when the Raptors roll into town.

Just as Scottie Barnes picked up his intensity when facing fellow top-5 draft pick, Cade Cunningham on Sunday, expect Barnes to be extra active with Mobley on the court. Darius Garland has previously been a thorn in Toronto’s side and should continue to be annoying, despite Dennis Schroder’s best efforts. Even if Mitchell plays, you’d have to think the Raptors are in an advantageous position with Anunoby ready to repeat the world of hurt he inflicted last season when Spida shot 3-of-11 and 4-of-16 in losses to Toronto in November/December.

If you’ve been keeping track, I’m about to predict a perfect 4-0 week.....which means the Raptors will definitely lose at least two of these. Let me know in the comments where I went wrong, but here goes nothing: Raptors upend the Cavaliers 109-105


Last Week: 3-1

Season Record: 9-4

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