It may not feel like the Toronto Raptors are better than last year, but after enduring the toughest schedule in the Eastern Conference to start the 2016-17 season, this team, at 25-13, is headed into the softest possible stretch of games with an opportunity to set a mid-season record for wins at the half-way mark.
Toronto has an opportunity to tie the record for the most wins through 41 games in team history with home victories Friday vs. Brooklyn (8-30) and Sunday vs. New York (18-22) and still have a game in hand. The Raptors had 27 wins through the first 41 games of the 2014-15 campaign.
After beating Boston on Tuesday, the Raptors have four consecutive games remaining against weak Atlantic Division opponents and the Raptors are 6-0 against their division rivals this year. Better, the Raptors have won five straight games versus Brooklyn and have an opportunity to match the team-record for consecutive wins against the Nets on Friday. They have also won four games in a row over the Knicks, so reaching the 27 win mark the fastest in team history on Sunday is something they should definitely accomplish.
Then the opportunity to break the franchise record at the halfway point in the season with their 28th win comes in Brooklyn on Tuesday.
After beating up on the Nets, Knicks and Nets again, the Raptors face the 76ers (11-25), Hornets (20-19) and then can look for some revenge against the Suns (12-27). The result should be a seven game winning streak that takes this team to a never before seen 31-13 mark before matching wits with the Spurs at the ACC on January 24th.
ESPN continues to project the Raptors to set a new franchise record for wins in a season at 57, marking the fifth year in a row head coach Dwane Casey will have led his team to a higher win total. ESPN also continues to project the Raptors as the most likely team in the East to win an NBA Title – sorry Cavs.
Season highlights after 38 games:
- DeMar DeRozan scored a season-high 41 points January 10th during Toronto’s 114-106 victory over Boston for his third straight game with 35+ points. He is the first Raptor to record three consecutive games with 35-or-more points since Vince Carter.
- Jonas Valanciunas set career highs for total rebounds (23) and offensive rebounds (11) January 10th vs. Boston. He also grabbed season-high 12 defensive boards. Valanciunas collected 10 rebounds in the fourth quarter becoming the first Raptor since Reggie Evans in 2010 to record 10 rebounds in a quarter.
- According to the Elias Sports Bureau, DeMar DeRozan (41 points) and Jonas Valanciunas (23 rebounds) became the first duo in team history to record 40+ points and 20+ rebounds in the same game.
- Kyle Lowry leads the NBA East with 126 three-pointers made, 20 more than Kemba Walker. This season he became the first player in team history to finish a game shooting 6-for-6 on three-pointers.
- DeMar DeRozan leads the East in scoring with 1071 points, 83 more points than Isaiah Thomas. He is second in free throws made (287) to Jimmy Butler (320).
- The Raptors lead the East in scoring at 110.7 points per game
- Toronto has the best road record in the East at 12-7