The good news is reinforcements are on their way.
Just about everything that can go wrong has gone wrong for the Toronto Raptors over the past two-plus weeks. Not only have they battled COVID-19 issues within the organization, but they’ve been unable to overcome the issues on the court. Sunday night’s 118-95 loss to the Chicago Bulls marked Toronto’s fifth straight loss, all of which have come against Eastern Conference teams.
If you want to look on the bright side, maybe there’s a case to be made that this experience has helped develop some of the Raptors’ bench players.
“We’re getting some guys out here who maybe we can plug in later on,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said prior to Sunday’s game. “We’re getting to learn ‘em a little bit and use that as a positive a little later on if we need to.”
The problem is hardly any of those players have stepped up. It’s been the Kyle Lowry, Norman Powell, and Chris Boucher show for the better part of the last five games and that’s not going to cut it.
“I think a couple guys were cleared yesterday, I think one or two more get cleared tomorrow, and then one more after that, and then there’s still some time that needs to elapse from there,” Nurse said of the group still in Tampa going through COVID-19 protocols. “I think by the end of the week, we’re kinda hoping to pick everybody, we were gonna fly to Detroit tonight and stay, but we’re going back home to pick up 11 missing in action people.”
The Raptors have certainly dug themselves a hole. Through 39 games, they sit at 17-22, tied with the lowly Oklahoma City Thunder for the 10th worst record in the NBA. If the season were to end today, Toronto would have about a 20% chance of earning a top-five pick in the NBA lottery. On the flip side, these are still The Toronto Raptors and that comes with some respect. FiveThirtyEight gave Toronto an 88% chance of making the playoffs prior to Sunday and ESPN has the Raptors with a 98.3% chance of making the postseason.
If Toronto is going to make a playoff push, it’s going to be unlike anything they’ve done in recent history. It’ll be an exhaustive dogfight to make it into the dance, but with Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, and OG Anunoby returning any day now, the Raptors will certainly have a chance to make some noise.
Up Next: Detroit Pistons
The Raptors will have some much-needed time off before returning on Wednesday to take on the Detroit Pistons.