Nick Nurse and the Toronto Raptors are right in the thick of the play-in race. While winning should always be encouraged, and the team is in a much better position than they were earlier in the year, the fact that the Raptors are in this position after winning 48 games last year has to sting.
Even the biggest fans of Raptors executive Masai Ujiri must acknowledge that he has not done an amazing job of plugging the holes on this roster. The Jakob Poeltl trade has proven to be a tremendous acquisition so far, but that move came too far in the season to make a material difference in the standings.
Unless the Hawks completely fall apart, Toronto appears to be locked in to wither the No. 9 or No. 10 seed. This team has some clear and obvious flaws that foes like the Wizards and Bulls will try to exploit if they end up facing off against them in the crucible of postseason action.
Toronto needs to try its best to fix these three errors in its day-to-day operations. It won’t be easy, but it’s the only way for them to put up a respectable enough fight against teams that have championship pursuits. Failing to fix them will lead to a very quick exit.
3 big flaws the Toronto Raptors must fix.
3. Performance vs. above .500 teams
The Raptors surprised many last season by consistently taking down some of the best teams in the league. The Bucks gave them very few troubles in the regular season, and they performed admirably against rivals like the 76ers and Celtics. They have not had anywhere near the same level of success this year,
Toronto went into Saturday night with a 15-24 record against teams at .500 or above, beating up on those who are in the lower tiers to the tune of a 19-12 mark. If the club is going to make it out of the play-in and shock the world, they need to pull off some surprises here and there.
The Toronto Raptors must play well against good teams.
With two straight road dates against the mighty Celtics, another duel with the 76ers on top, and one more Bucks matchup in the team’s final 12 games, Toronto is not in a position to kick their feet up and smoke cigars on the beach. These next few weeks could end up being hell if Nurse doesn’t come to play.
With two All-Stars in Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam on the floor for most of the game, and the lineup-changing Poeltl proving to be one of the best trade acquisitions made at the deadline, Toronto has the horses to be a real thorn in the side of many contending teams. Time will tell if they make good on that promise.