The last couple of weeks have been rough on the Toronto Raptors. After their win against the Los Angeles Clippers, they’ve now only 4 wins out of their last 12 games. Their recent win against the Brooklyn Nets was too close for comfort. Once the clear cut 2nd-placer in the East, they’ve since yielded their position to the Boston Celtics and are now jockeying with the Washington Wizards for 3rd. What’s going on?
Of course, it would be easy to pin the Raptors’ issues on the absence of DeMar DeRozan, whose injury kept him out of a fair stretch of those games. But what else seems to be the problem?
Here are the Toronto Raptors’ rankings:
On offense, they have 109.0 points per game. But for the last 12 games, they only have 101.4 points per game. On defense, they only allow 104.6 points per game For the last 12, they’ve allowed 105.3.
So yes, the drop-off for the Raptors has certainly been on the offensive end. Missing their All-Star Starter point guard was a blow for their dynamic movement and high octane offense. Don’t forget that Toronto isn’t a 3-point heavy team: They only attempt 25 shots from long range per game – 22nd in the league in that department. That’s because they like to run inside the arc, taking it to the basket – DeRozan’s specialty.
But mind that this team’s assist numbers are bad to begin with: 18.7 assists in the season, 16.9 in the last 12 games. Over all? 29th in the league. The Raptors’ teamwork on shots is better than only the Phoenix Suns.
Sure, Kyle Lowry can carry the load sometimes. He’s having a phenomenal season. But, as can be seen from his terrible performance against the Orlando Magic, he can’t do it all the time. The team needs to work a little better, finding the hot hand, looking for shots from the opponents’ weak side.
Time To Panic?
For a second there, the Toronto Raptors were all set to teeter over the edge of panic. A losing slump will tend to do that. But stringing a couple of wins is all it takes to get back on track, and perhaps tonight’s win against the Clippers will do that. Chris Paul was out, which will still sow doubts about the team’s ability to take down the best of the West, but it’s a start. Their 31-21 record is still respectable. Maybe not “elite”, but respectable.
Here’s why Toronto Raptors fans should be excited: their last four games against the All Star break are against the Timberwolves, Pistons, Chicago, and Charlotte. Those are four very winnable games to help them regain traction.
But after the All Star Break? A contest against the Celtics in late February, followed by a home-and-away versus the Wizards to kick off March. That’s right: 3 of their first 5 games after the break is against their top Eastern Conference foes, sans the Cavs.
If the Raptors want a chance to reassert themselves, this period would be the best time to do that.