The Toronto Raptors currently sit fourth in the Eastern Conference with 26 wins and 14 losses. Normally, that could be seen as a mild disappointment. However, with all the injuries the Toronto Raptors incurred throughout the season, their record and position in the Eastern Conference should be seen as a positive. The two examples who faced similar injury issues, the Golden State Warriors and the Minnesota Timberwolves have plummeted to the bottom of the Western Conference.
Toronto Raptors Mid-Season Report Card
A big reason for Toronto’s success is the bench. The Raptors bench has been terrific and has performed on the biggest stage. A lot of that credit should go to the Raptors 905, who have developed great players over the years they played a big role not just with the bench, but also with some of the starters in the Raptors rotation.
The greatest thing Masai Ujiri did was not trading DeMar DeRozan or Rudy Gay, it was forming the Raptors 905. Guys like Chris Boucher and Norman Powell stepped up while other players have been injured. This includes players like Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka, Fred VanVleet, and Pascal Siakam and others that have been injured.
Powell, for example, had 23 points and Terence Davis had 12 points in a nine-point win against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Boucher had two games where he had over 20 points, Davis and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson also had some excellent games as a Toronto Raptor. At some points in the season, these players have carried the Raptors to wins against teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and the Dallas Mavericks. They have helped carry the load when the Raptors starters were injured.
Toronto Raptors Come From Behind Win against the Dallas Mavericks
According to Gregor Chisholm of the Toronto Star, Raptors star Lowry was proud of the win.
“We had a great team effort,” Lowry said after Toronto’s sixth consecutive win. “Malcolm (Miller), Terence Davis, Rondae and Chris Boucher. I give them all the credit today. They won that game for us. Malcolm got a few steals, T.D. hit a couple of big threes. Chris with his defections and blocked shots. Rondae with his putbacks and hustle effort. Give those guys the credit man, seriously.”
Boucher had 21 points and seven rebounds, Jefferson had 18 points and 9 rebounds, 2 assists, and a steal. Finally, Davis had all 9 of his points in the fourth quarter and Malcolm Miller made key steals in the game. However, this is not to say Lowry did not step up as he had 32 points, with 20 of them scored in the fourth quarter.
The game took place on December 22 where the Raptors scored 47 points in the fourth quarter and the biggest comeback in Raptors history. According to NBA.com staff, this is the second-biggest comeback from 2000-01 as the Toronto Raptors once trailed by as many as 30 points against the Dallas Mavericks.
Pascal Siakam: A+
Yes, he did miss layup in the one-point loss against the San Antonio Spurs. However, Siakam has evolved into a player that few have predicted over the season. It is a shame he got injured as he is the Raptors’ best player.
However, no one can discount the improvement he has made from last year. This year he is averaging 24.6 points per game, 7.8 rebounds per game, and 3.6 assists per game. This is a significant improvement from the 2018-19 season, where he had 16.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game. What is even more impressive was that for the 2018-19 NBA Season Siakam won the NBA Most Improved Player Award.
According to Ryan Wolstat of Postmedia news, current head coach Nick Nurse said he believes Siakam could win the Most Improved NBA player award two times this year.
“I don’t think it’s crazy. I think he’s probably got to be in the conversation,” the Raptors head coach said before Wednesday’s game.
His most notable games were both against the New Orleans Pelicans. He had 34 points and 18 rebounds in the Raptors home opener. He then had 44 points and 10 rebounds at New Orleans. However, Siakam like most of the Toronto Raptors had some pretty lengthy injuries this year. However, taking that into account, the Raptors cannot seem to win against good NBA teams.
Winning Percentage against Over .500 Teams: B-
The main problem with the Toronto Raptors is winning against teams with a record over .500. They are only 6-12 against these teams. Some of these games were nail-biters that ended in losses against the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat. However, there is no reason to get overly critical of the Toronto Raptors. For example, on January 2nd, the Raptors were without the services of Marc Gasol, Siakam, and Lowry. They would end up losing that game to the Miami Heat 76-84. Another example would be against the Los Angeles Clippers, where the Raptors were playing two games at Staples Center with no Lowry and Ibaka.
There have been good against teams under .500 with a record of 20 wins and 2 losses, the second-best record in the Eastern Conference. However, they will eventually need to beat teams who are over .500 in order to repeat as champions. Thankfully, for the Toronto Raptors, most of their players are back in injury. This should result in more wins for the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors should aim to finish in second place in the NBA Eastern Conference by the end of the year. The Raptors are 1.5 games behind the third-place Boston Celtics and 2.0 full games behind the second-place Miami Heat. They are within striking distance and have played admiringly well, despite the injuries.
Toronto Raptors Mid-Season Review: A
The Toronto Raptors have struggled against teams over .500. However, it is also fair to say that many Raptor players had improved their points per game from last year’s NBA season. Also, according to team rankings, the Raptors are fifth in opponents’ points per game. There is a lot to love about the Toronto Raptors.
Most of the problems the Toronto Raptors had will be fixed in the second half of this season. Expect the Toronto Raptors to improve on their points per game. According to team rankings, the Toronto Raptors rank 15th in points per game.
There is no team as deep as the Raptors have been this year. The only real fault one can find with them was that most of the players were injured this NBA season. The Raptors have shown to be resilient the first half of this NBA season. In the second half of the NBA season, they will show the NBA why they are a team worthy of repeating as champions.
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