We should really start betting on the Raptors.
Last week we predicted they’d be 8-2 by the time we checked back today and, lo and behold, we were right for the third week in a row.
Though they’re no longer first in the league after finishing the week 1-1, they still sit atop the Eastern Conference and are four games up on the Brooklyn Nets in the Atlantic Division.
Damn, it feels nice to type that.
Also, you might recall the #LetRossDunk movement of two seasons ago. Saturday night’s win against Utah gave us enough reason to bring it back again this year:
But enough dwelling on the past – here’s what you need to know for the week ahead:
The schedule is finally starting to even out after an incredibly easy start for the Dinos, which means half-assing their way to victory won’t cut it over the next seven days.
Matchups against the league-leading Grizzlies (tonight, featuring renowned Judas/best Raptor of all time Vince Carter), Anderson Varejao and the Cavaliers (and some guy named Lebron, too) Saturday, and the very decent Phoenix Suns next Monday will all require A-game performances. They also play a 6-5 Milwaukee Bucks squad Friday who, despite their surprising record, should be pretty beatable at home.
We expect them to split the week again with a 10-4 record by the time you hear from us again next Wednesday.
WHO TO WATCH THIS WEEK: LANDRY FIELDS
Right!? Even if we included him just for the sake of watching whether he’ll get off the bench and see the court, it’s important to understand how we got here in the first place. It’s simple, really: James Johnson, our Week 2 X-Factor, has a severe ankle sprain with no timetable for a return to basketball activity.
That hurts – quite literally – because Johnson has proven himself to be a very valuable part of this roster, especially on the defensive end. We assume Fields will get a chance to prove his value, a major uphill battle considering his outrageous contract, when the Raptors need defensive stops against some of the league’s more dominant small forwards. A.K.A. that guy LeBron we mentioned.
X-FACTOR: PATRICK PATTERSON
Easily one of the most likable players on the team, Patrick Patterson will need to have a big week if the Raptors want to come away with our predicted 2-2 (or better) record at the end of it. There’s a lot of talk around the NBA about the effectiveness of employing a stretch-four – a power forward who’s able to take their opponents away from the basket because of their shooting ability from distance – so we’ll see how he matches up against some of the league’s top inside players in Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, and Kevin Love.
OFF THE COURT
Terrence Ross stirred quite the Instagram debate when he threw his support behind ex-Raptor hero-villain Vince Carter ahead of their matchup tonight. This isn’t the first-time, of course – in his rookie year, the third-year swingman donned Carter’s iconic #15 purple jersey on his way to claiming the NBA Slam Dunk crown.
Carter, who’s been booed by Raptors fans every time he’s touched the ball at the Air Canada Centre since 2004, will be honoured by the franchise as part of the club’s 20th anniversary celebration that will continue throughout this season.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Great game tonight made even better because of a very special guest. @antigiant you’re the real hero.… http://t.co/QbLlbP3s1s
— Greivis Vasquez (@greivisvasquez) November 16, 2014
Cover image from: Toronto Raptors Facebook