Scientists have studied this for decades, but I feel like we have yet to reach a conclusive answer: is it better to lose a tightly contested game, one decided by a handful of possessions or maybe one or two good shots, or is there something to the idea of a blowout, time spent just watching your team get steamrolled for two and a half hours? This is an open question.
For the Raptors, the losses have been relatively few and far between. They begin this week 36-16, with a firm grasp on second place in the East. In fact, this week they’ve actually found some new ways to win — see the dying second against the Timberwolves last Tuesday. That was something to see, let me tell you.
When they have lost though, it’s often been of the frustratingly close loss variety, rather than the deflating blowout. And so our minds turn back to this question. Is it better to be in almost every game and lose down the stretch, or to just throw your hands up after the first quarter and admit defeat? It feels like Toronto has had its share of lopsided affairs in history, but on the other hand watching the Raps fritter away that game against Washington doesn’t do us any good either. Will we ever get an answer?
Let’s see what the Power Rankings say this week.
Let’s kick things off with Jose De Leon over at ESPN:
4. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 4)
The Raptors, currently the No. 2 seed in the East, have a big home matchup against the top-seeded Celtics on Tuesday. In their only other meeting of the season, DeMar DeRozan missed two potential go-ahead shots in the final 20 seconds of the game, and neither team had more than a five-point lead in the fourth quarter.
Some big time analysis from ESPN again this week. Yes these are things that happened, thank you.
(Next we’d ordinarily get to Kenny Ducey at Sports Illustrated, but apparently the Super Bowl has thrown the space time continuum out of wack and we’re still waiting for more Power Rankings.)
So then, a nation turns to Dr. John Schuhmann to deliver the diagnosis at NBA.com:
3. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 4)
Though the Raptors have been a little inconsistent themselves over the last few weeks, the Warriors’ defensive slippage has left Toronto as the only team that ranks in the top five on both ends of the floor. The offense (118 points scored per 100 possessions) has been better than the defense as they’ve won four of their last five games. The only game in that stretch that they lost in the one (at Washington on Thursday) that they played without Fred VanVleet, who has averaged 16 points off the bench in the other four. With the Cavs continuing to flounder, the two best teams in the East will meet (for the first time since early November) in Toronto on Tuesday, though it’s not clear if Kyrie Irving (bruised quad) will be available for the Celtics.
Et tu, Schuhmann? I think the inconsistency thing is a tad overblown. If anything, the Raptors win and lose and consistent ways. The fold-job versus the Wizards shouldn’t have surprised us as much as it did, and the return of VanVleet should be seen as the necessary salve it was. Now, we look to Tuesday.
And oh yeah, we finally get to CBS Sports, and the totally in-the-know writings of Chris Barnewell:
2. Toronto Raptors (Last Week: 6)
Toronto has been great this season, and it would be surprising to see the Raptors make a move. However, the log jam at the center spot still needs to be cleared out, and Jonas Valanciunas feels like the odd man out.
Boy, these guys really get it, you know?
Now, on to the poll (while I can still keep a straight face).