Raptors after 60 games: a glance back, a look forward


The Raptors had little trouble maintaining momentum during their past 10 games. We’ll look at those results, and consider the next ten matches, in this post.

During Games 51-60, the Toronto Raptors took significant steps towards finishing first in the Eastern Conference. Nine wins in ten tries frequently has that effect. Now they are nestled just ahead of the Boston Celtics – can they stay there?

What was noteworthy about so many of the Raptors’ recent wins? The margin of victory. Yes, they nearly flubbed the win over Miami, and it took too long to put Memphis and Orlando away. However, games against the Blazers, Celtics(!), Knicks, Bulls, and Pistons were all but done after 36 minutes.

It’s pleasing to note the balance in this 10-game tranche. There are 5 home games, and (duh) 5 away. The travel itself won’t be gruelling, as the 3-game road swing in the middle includes 2 in New York City.

TORONTO, ON – FEBRUARY 13: Goran Dragic
TORONTO, ON – FEBRUARY 13: Goran Dragic /

Game 61 finds our team in Washington. The impressively resilient Wizards haven’t been slowed in the least by the absence of point guard John Wall. They appear fully capable of retaining their 4/5 seed. Next up is a pair at home, against Charlotte and Atlanta. The Hornets looked dreadful the last time the Raptors faced them, but have pushed back the coffin lid on their playoff hopes since then. The Hawks are sad.

We’re off to Detroit, where the Pistons are falling out of the playoff picture; they don’t have the depth to hang with our guys. The Houston Rockets visit Toronto – could this game be a preview of the NBA Finals? Next we see the Knicks and Nets on their home floors. Neither team is within hailing distance of the post-season.

Wrapping it up

A visit to the well-balanced Indiana Pacers ends the road trip. Then we’re home to greet the Dallas Mavericks, followed by the OKC Thunder. The Mavs are in a world of trouble off the court. They are trying to cope with recent reports about disgraceful behaviour towards their female employees, plus a fat fine levied on owner Mark Cuban for discussing tanking. [20-second timeout: Cuban has admitted he wasn’t paying attention to what was happening to the women in his office. The tanking talk he indulged in was just immensely foolish. I’m so glad the Raptors have low-profile ownership and a smart, under-control President.] On the court, the Mavs are playing for pride and next year’s jobs. They beat the Raptors in Dallas on Boxing Day, so our team should have no trouble with motivation.

The Thunder, with their star-studded lineup, is an entirely different proposition.

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Toronto shouldn’t be satisfied with anything worse than a 7-3 mark. Losses to Washington, Houston, Indiana and OKC are all conceivable, while the other games should be routine.

I don’t like coming across as over-confident. That said, apart from OG Anunoby’s sprained ankle, the team is healthy and winning plenty of games by double-digit margins. The bench bunch has had a huge hand in so many of the wins. There’s a lot to be optimistic about as we enter the regular season’s final quarter.