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Raptors Closing In On First Overall In The NBA

On a seemingly ignored 10 game winning streak the Toronto Raptors are on the verge of passing the Golden State Warriors in the overall standings and are just three games back of the Houston Rockets who they have defeated twice this season.

These aren’t your Raptors of the past four years. Yes, those teams set club records with 48, 49, 56 and 51 win seasons and were better than anything fans in Toronto had experienced, but this team is on a pace never before seen north of the border and there is still an element of disbelief around the NBA and even in the local fan base. And that’s despite this winning streak really stretching back to late January at 19-2.

While the blow out wins in February were impressive, what deserves more notice are the recent hard fought wins over desperate teams fighting for playoff position. Games that in past seasons probably would not have ended in the Raptors favor.

Toronto crushed the Pistons hopes of sneaking into the playoffs by blowing them out at the Air Canada Centre at the end of February and a week later broke their hearts in an overtime thriller in Detroit that the Pistons had to win to stay in the playoff race. The Raptors also took wins away from the Wizards in Washington and the Pacers in Indiana in the fourth quarter with both teams fighting for home court in the postseason.

However, the signature win came against the Western Conference’s first place Rockets who came into Toronto on a 17 game winning streak having lost earlier in the season to Toronto in front of their home fans. The Raptors were playing their third game in four nights, but it didn’t matter as they held the NBA’s second highest scoring team to just 105 points.

The Warriors are experiencing injury woes and dropped a couple of road games recently. Currently Stephen Curry (ankle), Klay Thompson (thumb) and Kevin Durant (ribs) are all on the shelf, so there may be a few more losses coming before they get all their superstars back. Passing the Dubs in the overall standings is a very real possibility for the Raptors.

The Rockets, however, may prove to have too big of a lead. Houston has bounced back for three wins in a row after losing in Toronto. The Raptors can see first place overall, but there doesn’t seem to be anything standing in the way of James Harden and company running the table from here.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 Featured image courtesy of Larry Millson