The 2015-16 Toronto Raptors have made franchise history.
With a 103-93 victory over the New York Knicks on TNT on Thursday, the Raptors won their 10th game in a row, setting a new franchise-best winning streak.
The previous record was set in 2001-02, when a Vince Carter-less, Mo-Pete-led squad railed off nine in a row to make a late playoff push. The 1999-2000 team is the only other edition to even reach a seven-game winning streak, so this stretch really stands out from a generally moribund franchise history.
Not that 10 games is all that impressive in a league context – it’s been done 259 times since 1946-47 – but the Raptors are just the fourth team to do it this season and the only Eastern Conference squad to reach double-digits. Here’s a quick look back at the streak, which has pushed the Raptors to 31-15, good for second in the East.
- Jan. 6, @ Brooklyn – 91-74
- Jan. 8, @ Washington – 97-88
- Jan. 9, @ Philadelphia – 108-95
- Jan. 14, @ Orlando in England – 106-103 (OT)
- Jan. 18, Brooklyn – 112-100
- Jan. 20, Boston – 115-109
- Jan. 22, Miami – 101-81
- Jan. 24, L.A. Clippers – 112-94
- Jan. 26, Washington – 106-89
- Jan. 28, New York – 103-93
You can pick nits with that list, given the low quality of competition and occasional struggles at either end. In particular, Thursday’s game was hot garbage for long stretches, with the Raptors tasking an injured Kyle Lowry with 40 minutes in order to beat a woefully banged-up Knicks squad because the Raptors, as is the case too often, couldn’t put a lesser opponent away.
Really, though, complaining too much would say more about you than the Raptors, I think. The game-to-game complaints are entirely justified and reasonable, but over an 82-game season and 21-year history, I think it’s allowable, perhaps even necessary, to take a step back, look at the big picture, and appreciate a weird, successful run. You can only beat the teams put in front of you, and the Raptors have done exactly that, in most cases in decisive fashion. The streak shouldn’t automatically allay any concerns you have about the team, but it shouldn’t be ignored because of those concerns, either. It’s been a lot of fun, and if the longest winning streak in franchise history isn’t cause for an appreciative smile, I’m not sure what is.
(OK, I know what is, but that can’t happen until late April.)
The Raptors will have a chance to extend the streak at home against Detroit on Saturday before embarking on a five-game road-trip heading into the All-Star break.
So, is this the best any Raptors team has ever played, given it’s the longest winning streak? I’m not sure I’d go that far, and I’m not willing to crunch numbers on quality of competition over previous streaks. What is becoming clear is that this may be the best “era” or core in Raptors history, with the Raptors on their way to hosting a playoff series for a third consecutive season. The team will ultimately be measured by their playoff success, and they need to win a series to put them up against the 1999-2002 group, but they’re on their way to topping that three-year stretch in total wins (they’re at 128 with 36 to go, versus 134 for that other group).
What say you? Is this your favorite Raptors group ever? Would a playoff series victory be enough for you to call this the best era in team history? Or is this just a 10-game win streak against mostly easy competition in the middle of a season that won’t be measured by the regular season at all?