The Toronto Raptors have had an awful start to the season, and teams that have started 1-6 typically don’t make the playoffs (but it isn’t impossible).
The Toronto Raptors have dug themselves a big hole. The last two times they’ve made the same hole (1-6) was in 2010 and 2012. You can probably guess the outcome of those seasons. They were bad teams, unlike the current Raptors, that wouldn’t make the playoffs.
This year is different. The Raptors were never supposed to be a bad team, many expected them to be in the playoffs; including analysts like Zach Lowe and Kevin O’Connor who had them at the fifth-sixth seed in the East before the season started.
We’re seven games into the season and the Raptors are one of only two teams with one win to their name. And if we look at the past 20 years, history hasn’t been kind to teams that start their season 1-6.
Only one team has made the playoffs after starting the season 1-6 since 2001
There have been a few teams who were close to the playoffs or at least decent throughout the season despite the record above. There were the Indiana Pacers in 2014-2015 who finished 9th with a 38-44 record. The Memphis Grizzlies were able to be the 10th seed in the west with a 40-42 record, a record that would get the Raptors a play-in spot today (they were still 10 games behind the eighth seed Thunder but that’s a decent record for such a bad start).
The other team who were able to recuperate from their bad start were the Houston Rockets in the 2010-2011 season. They would actually end the season with a very good 45-39 record but still managed to miss the playoffs. They were the ninth seed, nonetheless, and that is a play-in spot in today’s game — some optimism to bear in mind considering all the negativity surrounding the Raptors.
Now to the only team who has made the playoffs. Out of 43 teams to start 1-6 in the past 20 years, the only team to make the playoffs are the Golden State Warriors in 2008 with a 48-34 record.
History tells us that if you start the season with a 1-6, 97.7 percent of the time you will miss the playoffs, 2.3 percent of the time you make the playoffs, and 7 percent of the time you’ll make what is now a play-in seed spot. Not a lot of hope to gather here if you’re a Raptors fan.
This isn’t to make everyone lose hope. The season is still very young and as previously said, they can easily be 4-3 or 3-4 right now. Some bad shooting nights from the Raptors that are exacerbated with opposing teams having great ones is a big reason for their poor record. I’m not at all taking away from the blame they deserve, they’ve been poor but there are many things that haven’t gone their way — teams have shot 45 percent and over from three 3 times this season, something that happened only 4 times all of last season.
The Toronto Raptors will have to fight back if they want any chance at a playoff (or play-in) spot, just like the Warriors did in 2008, the Pacers in 2014-2015, the Grizzlies in 2009-2010, and the Houston Rockets in 2010-2011.
The last thing we want to see the Toronto Raptors be are the other 39 teams who have started 1-6 and went out to average 25 wins per season.