Already this season, four NBA teams have railed off winning streaks of at least seven games. The Boston Celtics more or less came out of the gate with a 16-game streak, the Golden State Warriors fit a seven-gamer in during that stretch, and the Cleveland Cavaliers responded with a 13-game run of their own. The Houston Rockets have won nine in a row right now, the longest active streak in the NBA.
Don’t look now, but the Toronto Raptors could be joining in. It’s fitting, too, considering the Raptors appear to be considered somewhere around the fifth (maybe sixth) best team in basketball right now. They’re fourth in record, third in net rating, third in offensive rating, ninth in defensive rating, and have done all of that against a roughly average schedule. All of that is to say, they belong in the discussion near the top, at least in the second tier, and pulling off a comparable win streak to those other teams would probably help their case, no matter the competition – presently, the Raptors have won six in a row, and while only one of those games came against a .500 team, three have come on the road. If they stretch it to seven or eight, those next wins will come against losing teams at home, including one on the second night of a back-to-back against the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday.
It’s not a sure victory, of course. If the Raptors do win, though, it will be just the fourth winning streak of seven games or longer in franchise history. A quick refresher on their best streaks:
- 1999-2000: Raptors win seven in a row over February and March to help push to 45-37 on the season, good for the franchise’s first playoff appearance. Sophomore Vince Carter averages 31.6 points on 50.9/54.3/74.1 shooting on the streak, adding six rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 1.9 steals.
- 2001-02: Raptors win nine in a row in March and April to salvage a 42-40 record and a playoff berth, doing so without the help of Carter. The Raptors had gone on a 13-game losing streak earlier that season and needed this hot close to the year to edge into the playoffs by just one game, where they pushed Jerry Stackhouse and No. 2-seed Detroit to five games.
- 2015-16: Raptors win 11 in a row, covering most of January, on their way to the best record in franchise history at 56-26. Jonas Valanciunas averages a 13.2-10.5 double-double with 1.6 blocks, DeMar DeRozan goes 24.5-5-4 and shoots 37 percent on threes, and Kyle Lowry somehow tops him with 21.9-5.6-5.7 on )62.2-percent true-shooting with 2.5 steals.
Toronto has a way to go before sniffing that last streak. They can make this one of their best runs ever if they maintain the plot on what could otherwise be a sleepy SEGABABA.
The game tips off at 10:30 on TSN 1 and TSN 1050. You can check out the full game preview here.
Everything should be pretty much as it was yesterday. In a back-to-back scenario, the Raptors didn’t have shootaround today, and they won’t practice tomorrow. That means the next meaningful update on Delon Wright (cleared for 3-on-3) or Lucas Nogueira (now shooting) won’t come until Wednesday at the earliest, in all likelihood. Both players are out again here and are the only names on the injury report.
The 10-man rotation will be fairly similar to the rest of the six-game streak, then, though Dwane Casey may be losing patience with an all-bench unit that has looked lately like it could use some starter staggering. Neither Norman Powell or C.J. Miles have looked their best of late, and while Fred VanVleet remains the plus-minus god, he needs at least one of those two to be on point to help carry the offensive load. Wright’s return threatens to cut into someone’s minutes eventually, and how the next couple of games play out could determine whomsts minutes those are.
PG: Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Lorenzo Brown
SG: DeMar DeRozan, Norman Powell
SF: OG Anunoby, C.J. Miles, Alfonzo McKinnie
PF: Serge Ibaka, Pascal Siakam, Malcolm Miller
C: Jonas Valanciunas, Jakob Poeltl
OUT: Delon Wright, Lucas Nogueira
905: Bruno Caboclo
With Blake Griffin and Patrick Beverley already out, the Clippers are going to be rolling with mostly unfamiliar fivesomes that have played sparingly together. The impending return of Milos Teodosic is a nice boost, though, a reintroduction of a vivacious passing flair that will make a top-10 offense exponentially more enjoyable (and a bottom-three defense even worse, but let’s focus on the beautiful positives). Teodosic has been out for weeks with plantar fasciitis, and a return was hinted at over the weekend, leading to a questionable tag for this one. Well, he’s playing, and he’s returning to the starting lineup, albeit with a minutes restriction. Rejoice, Clippers fans.
Of course, because this is the 2017-18 Clippers, that good news can’t come without some bad. Danilo Gallinari will sit due to a glute injury, per Dan Woike. That will keep him out for at least a few games. It’s unclear who will get the starting nod in his place, but the Clippers could just shift everyone down a position with Teodosic returning at the point, rather than using a two-way player or Montrezl Harrell at power forward.
UPDATE: Jamil Wilson is starting at the four.
PG: Milos Teodosic, Jawun Evans
SG: Austin Rivers, Lou Williams
SF: Wesley Johnson, Sindarius Thornwell, C.J. Williams
PF: Jamil Wilson, Sam Dekker
C: DeAndre Jordan, Montrezl Harrell, Willie Reed
OUT: Patrick Beverley, Blake Griffin, Danilo Gallinari
Agua Caliente: Brice Johnson
- Here’s an interesting quote from James Johnson when asked about the difference with Miami’s culture, in this feature from friend of the site Michael Scotto: “Just their want-to, they’re no excuses, act like a champion on and off the court, and just that mental stability of always teaching you, not just drills, not just coaching just because they’re called coaches. They really inspire, they really help out, and it makes you want to be in that work environment.” Take that for what you will. It’s probably not worth making much of right now, and it’s nothing new, really, but I’m sure there are a few of you who will appreciate being kept abreast of such comments.
- Toronto FC had a championship parade today. In downtown Toronto. For winning a championship. I need this for basketball. One day.
- The Raptors are holding another design contest for game-day graphics.
Time for another round of #MyRapsDesign. We’re now accepting submissions for this Sunday’s game day graphic vs SAC.
You can submit on both Twitter & Instagram and remember to include #MyRapsDesign.
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) December 11, 2017
The Raptors opened as 5.5-point favorites, and the line has shrunk a bit to Raptors -5. The over-under opened at 215 and currently sits at 214.