The way the Toronto Raptors have played during the pre-All-Star portion of the season, they would probably prefer to forego the All-Star break for at least a couple more weeks. But the midseason showcase must go on, and the Raps will have to settle for having an extended break to enjoy the most successful pre-All-Star Game record in franchise history.
The Raptors won eight of their last 10 heading into the break, and betting lines have consistently favored the Raptors in all but the most competitive games.
Kyle Lowry has been the team’s undisputed MVP over the first half of the season and is well-deserving of his first ever All-Star Game nod. But perhaps the break caught him at the right time. Since the start of 2015, Lowry’s production has dropped nearly across the board, particularly his points (15.7) and field goal percentage (37.6 percent).
That may be just Lowry regressing to the mean after his superhuman effort while DeMar DeRozan was out injured. Here’s hoping Lowry doesn’t get too worked up during the game and the Skills Competition and gets enough rest over the weekend.
It should be a promising sign, though, that the Raptors’ offense hasn’t missed a beat even with their star struggling. Through the last 10 games, the Raptors have maintained their pace as the top-five offense they’ve been for most of the entire season. DeRozan’s return to form has certainly been a big factor, but it also speaks of the team’s depth that they’re navigating Lowry’s slump so well.
James Johnson’s return to the rotation should only help that depth as the Raptors enter the break with more or less a fully healthy roster. Over half the job is done and so far so good. The challenge now is to go from good to great after a surprisingly timely layoff.