The Toronto Raptors remain one of the most confusing teams in the NBA this season, if not the most puzzling. After starting the season off with playoff expectations, they slumped to a 2-8 beginning before winning five of their last six games. All of their positive momentum has now ebbed away, as the Raptors lost three straight games, punctuated by a rough loss against a struggling Sacramento Kings team last night.
Fred VanVleet can see how the Raptors have been their own worst enemy of late, giving games away and preventing comeback attempts. VanVleet saw what every Raptors fan saw during their awful first half against the Kings last night, as self-inflicted wounds like turnovers and ill-advised shot attempts have been plaguing the Raptors of late. VanVleet said that the Raptors have been playing well, but “dumb stuff” often holds them back.
The Toronto Raptors have regressed to the mean after making a little bit of a run
After taking down some quality teams like the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers, Toronto started their current three-game slide with a loss against Indiana. While the losses against the Pacers and Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Milwaukee Bucks were certainly crushing, they are two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. The Sacramento loss, however, was a sign that something is truly rotten in the city of Tampa, as the Kings came in as the worst defensive team in the NBA by a wide margin, yet still managed to come out with the victory.
While VanVleet himself can escape a large chunk of the criticism, as he is averaging a career-high 19.5 points per game in his first season after signing an $85 million contract, his poor shooting percentage has hurt the Raptors in clutch situations.
The biggest issue with the Raptors is the baffling lack of consistency. One night, they’ll shut teams down on the defensive end, the next they’ll be a complete sieve on that end of the floor. One night, Toronto will be automatic from deep. In their next game, they won’t be able to hit water if they fell out of a boat.
Time will tell if the Raptors can, or will, turn things around, but the recent form they’ve shown off is not that of a team with playoff aspirations.