Last week we told you we’d be happy to see the Raptors at 6-2 by this point.
Turns out that wasn’t good enough.
That’s FIRST PLACE IN THE ENTIRE NBA.
And though they’re still far from playing their best ball – they needed an impressive late bench effort to put away the Magic last night after underwhelming for most of the game – it’s exciting to watch a team with the expectation they’ll rack up a W regardless.
When’s the last time that could be said about a Toronto franchise?
The Raptors only play two games between today and the time we check back in with you next Wednesday, both of which will test the legitimacy of their early season form.
The 6-2 Bulls, who themselves are Eastern Conference title contenders, are in town tomorrow night while a decent Utah Jazz team stops by the Air Canada Centre on Saturday.
Though expecting a 2-0 week isn’t Carmelo Anthony’s hat-level crazy, we predict a 1-1 split.
It takes more than a few good games to extinguish a 20-year inferiority complex and dream of a 9-1 start.
WHO TO WATCH THIS WEEK: LOU WILLIAMS
We meant it when we said he’s like Swaggy P with added IQ. For all the erratic shooting displays you’ll endure throughout an 82-game season with this type of player, you’ll have a handful of games that are decided by his explosive scoring punch off the bench.
Last night was one of those nights.
Williams scored 8 of his 14 points during a crucial stretch in the fourth quarter to lift the Raptors over an Orlando Magic team that was otherwise deserving of the W.
He’s scored in double figures in each of the last five games and will continue to be a key piece of the team’s offence moving forward.
We wouldn’t be surprised to see a few of these before season’s end:
X-FACTOR: JONAS VALANCIUNAS
We were spot on last week when we focused on James Johnson as the team’s X-Factor. He carries the Raptors defensively on some possessions and did this, which is always nice.
This week we’re zoning in on big man Jonas Valanciunas, who’s been in a bit of a slump over the past five games and been duly outplayed by most of his opponents. Chicago and Utah are strong in the paint, so the Raps will need a big effort from their Lithuanian centre.
OFF THE COURT
We’re going back to our main man Drake this week. Someone who sits courtside with the audacity to wear George Costanza’s glasses deserves mention.
And this just kills us.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
“If we win with them, we can wear bikinis.”
– Toronto Raptors Head Coach Dwane Casey when asked about wearing jerseys with sleeves (as was the case with their special edition uniforms to commemorate the Canadian Armed Forces last night).