Even after all of their new additions, the Toronto Raptors remain one of the league’s most frustrating teams to watch. One night they will beat their opponent into submission, and the next, they will look like they just rolled out of bed 15 minutes before tip-off.
Thursday night’s humiliation at the hands of the Washington Wizards underscored the fact that the Raptors are running out of time if they want to make a serious playoff run. Not only did they lose some ground in the standings, but they were embarrassed by a team that they could end up facing in a play-in matchup.
The Raptors are about to start the second game of a five-game road trip that carries with it the potential to give them a nitro boost of momentum or sink their season. Time will tell which path they end up taking.
Raptors schedule lookahead: The crucial next 5 games
Saturday, March 4: at Memphis Grizzlies
Monday, March 6: at Denver Nuggets
Wednesday, March 10: at Los Angeles Clippers
Friday, March 12: at Los Angeles Lakers
Sunday, March 14: vs. Denver Nuggets
The Raptors have to face a very deep Grizzlies team that has already beaten them up in the past. With how well the Clippers have been playing lately, Kawhi Leonard and the rest of the squad may be able to feast against a weak Raptors bench.
Facing Nikola Jokic twice in four games will be a good test of how improved this defense truly can be with Jakob Poeltl at the center spot. Stopping Jokic is impossible, but slowing him down could be within Poeltl’s capacity.
With Washington playing some very good basketball of late and the Raptors themselves just a few games over an 11th-place team in the Chicago Bulls. A poor stretch in these games could send them tumbling down the standings in a disappointing crescendo to the season.
The Raptors have shown they are better at taking care of below-average teams than they were last season, but their performance against championship contenders or teams that are going to be postseason threats have underwhelmed. They could reverse that trend in short order by piling up the wins here.