The Toronto Raptors are playing better than their 2-8 record.
Monday night’s heartbreaking loss against the Portland Trail Blazers, which came just 24 hours after the Golden State Warriors prevailed in a similar fashion, shows exactly how tough the start to the 2020-21 season has been for Nick Nurse and the Toronto Raptors.
While plenty of attention has been directed towards Toronto’s inability to hold onto leads, one peculiar stat shows that even accounting for these collapses, the Raptors might be playing better than most realize.
The Raptors have a point-differential of -1.3 after 10 games this year, yet only the Washington Wizards are beneath them in the standings. By the same token, the Orlando Magic, who currently occupy the fourth seed in the East, have a point differential of -4.2, showing how close the Raptors have been to a more respectable start.
The Raptors are a few lucky bounces away from an above .500 record.
The Raptors have had no problem starting off hot, as they are currently the fifth-best team in the league in terms of first-quarter point differential. However, those numbers drop to 18th in the second quarter, an abysmal 28th in the third, and 14th in the fourth, where they let two wins against Golden State and Portland slip away.
Part of the slow start is due to the fact that Nurse continues to play tomato cans like Aron Baynes and Alex Len down the stretch in close games, and part of it is due to the fact that Pascal Siakam has now missed consecutive chances to give Toronto wins at the buzzer. Either way, Toronto is 2-8, a record that looks worse because of the amount of close games this team has lost.
The line between victory and defeat in this league is always razor-thin, but the Raptors are really showing how one or two bad bounces can completely derail a postseason pursuit. While their point differential has some fans thinking that they’re due for a few wins here and there, their inability to hold on to huge leads and close out games has some wondering if they’d be better off looking forward to 2021 and beyond.