The Toronto Raptors have won 48, 49, 56 and 51 games over the past four NBA seasons and at 54 wins with 9 games remaining are likely to have the franchise’s first ever 60 win season this year. But even in the midst of an 11 win 2 loss month of March, doubters remain. Hey Toronto, this is what success looks like.
It’s been a while now that the Raptors players have looked listless, unfocused and possibly bored with the process. Once they got a double-digit lead in games over the rival Cavaliers and a nearly insurmountable lead on the second place Celtics, there just hasn’t been many situations that would really make a difference.
“We went thru it in Dallas, we went thru it in Seattle, so it’s not anything that’s new to our team,” head coach Dwane Casey said to explain the Raptors lack of focus in the win over the Nets. “It’s an NBA phenomenon.”
The Raptors have been starting games without the defensive intensity they showed earlier in the season. Up until March the Raptors were top 10 in fewest points allowed in the first quarter (26.2 points allowed) and finished the quarter up a respectable +1.9 points up on their opponents, but this month they’d dropped to 23rd at 28.8 points allowed and a misleading +0.1 points differential as its often been up to the bench to make up for the starters early malaise.
Call it boredom, a lack of focus, or just the realization they can beat most of the teams in the NBA if they just play hard for the last six minutes of the game. But as coach Casey points out, this isn’t anything new. In reality, this is what success looks like in the finals days of the regular season.
When you have a 50 win team in March, can the playoffs start soon enough?