Raptors Lead

Raptors Continue to Play Under the Radar Despite Win Streak

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On Wednesday, February 5th, the Raptors brought out the legendary full-court press to lead them to a comeback victory over the Indiana Pacers. This solidified their 12th straight win– a franchise best. Pulses were high, but with OG Anunoby playing stellar defense down the stretch and Serge Ibaka hitting the game-winning three, the streak continued. It has been speculated that because 9 of the 14 wins have been against teams under .500, does this streak prove anything? The answer is yes. These are games teams are expected to win, and when plans go as expected, well we indicate one thing, no screws are loose. While enduring multiple injuries over this stretch, the Raptors have been able to remain consistent, and appear to be afraid of no team.

What truly is exciting was that Toronto embraced the next-man-up mentality. This was said numerous times after Wednesday’s game. The Raptors are having FUN on the court, they aren’t playing with that same fear that they evoked in years past. Why? Because they have nothing to prove. The Raptors veterans captured their elusive title, and now that they know what it takes, it is just about going out there and playing the game.

“Role Players”

Since Wednesday’s win, the Raptors have faced the Pacers AGAIN, and then returned home for a game against the Nets. The streak is now at 14. Although February is not an easy month with another game against the Pacers and the title-contending Bucks, the Raptors are proving that even after losing their superstar, they can still compete. Fred VanVleet described their play as fun, and that although everyone can do more, everyone knows not to overstep their role. This makes this team great, because when teams have one or two superstars, everyone else becomes a “Role Player.” The Raptors are constructed of 12 role players, because having a role is not a bad thing, and in the NBA today, there is this narrative on it being negative.

Undrafted Excellence

On any given night, any player one through twelve will be able to score 20+. Against the Brooklyn Nets, 74 of the 119 points scored were from undrafted players including Fred VanVleet, Terence Davis, Matt Thomas, and Chris Boucher. Nurse can go deep in his bag, and has players who can execute, regardless of the moment. Through an effective full-court press — which has made teams look lost on the court — the Raptors have proven to be an elite defensive team. The Raptors currently sit at second in General Team Defense. They have been able to hold opponents to 104.9 PPG, while swiping 8.8 steals per game and rejecting 4.9 blocks per game. In January, the Raptors had a team record of 12-3, one of their most winning months in franchise history, while being tied for 1st in NBA Defensive rankings.

As seen on ESPN, is it something or nothing? The unanimous agreement is that it is certainly something. Through the dog days of the NBA season, leading up to the all-star break. The Raptors look strong and appear to be peaking at just the right time. While Marc Gasol, Norman Powell and Kyle Lowry all missed some time, this team doesn’t appear to worry, as they turn to the next man up. Nurse mentioned at the beginning of the season, you must have the exact DNA to fit this team’s culture and that message has been clear. While the Raptors remain strong, there only is one fear lingering in the city of Toronto– the uncertainty on Masai’s future.

For now, appreciate the greatness while present, as the Raptors look to extend the win streak to 15 on Monday night against the new-look Minnesota Timberwolves.

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About Uday Saluja

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