The Toronto Raptors are not in a good spot right now.
Don’t take my word for it, it’s what Kyle Lowry said after his team fell 100-93 to the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday, dropping to 0-3 on the season.
“We’re definitely in a bad spot,” Lowry said. “We haven’t won a game but we could be 3-0. We were in position to win all three games and unfortunately it didn’t work out for us.”
But how bad is 0-3 really?
At least one team has made the playoffs after starting the season 0-3 in each of the last five seasons. The odds of making it after an 0-3 start aren’t great, but that’s skewed by the fact that bad teams usually start 0-3 and good teams don’t. But if we assume that the Raptors haven’t fallen off a cliff this season after finishing the 2019-20 regular season with the second-best record in the NBA, then it’s safe to say the Raptors are at least a good team, albeit probably not great.
This leads us to the panic question. Is it time to hit the panic button?
First of all, there’s no point in panicking. You can’t do anything other than scream into the Facebook/Twitter/Reddit/TikTok abyss or complain to your family members or significant other about whatever may have peeved you about the start to the Raptors season.
No, Nick Nurse shouldn’t be fired. No, Pascal Siakam should not be benched. And no, it’s not time to panic.
If you thought the Raptors were going to be title contenders this season, then sure, panic if you feel it necessary, but that’s on you. The Raptors played about as well as they could possibly play last season and came up short of an NBA title. Then they lost two key pieces in the offseason, replaced them with lesser players, and have by all accounts taken a step back.
It’s all happened while the East has appeared to get better. The Brooklyn Nets look incredible when healthy. The Milwaukee Bucks still have the reigning MVP and have shown no signs of slowing down. The Miami Heat are fresh off an NBA Finals appearance and remain extremely deep and talented. The Boston Celtics will be a tough team to beat when Kemba Walker returns. And the Philadelphia 76ers, if they can ever fully gel, should be among the conference’s very best.
Then there are the Raptors, probably a step below that, somewhere fighting for the sixth seed with the 3-1 Indiana Pacers and 3-0 Atlanta Hawks.
Right now the Raptors have an 84% chance of making the playoffs, according to FiveThirtyEight. If that number seems low, compare it to the Brooklyn Nets who sit at 78% according to the analytics guys, and take a deep breath. Eventually, things are going to turn around for Toronto, the question is merely when.
“We don’t have time to waste no more, we’re 0-3 and we need a win really, really bad,” Lowry said. “I feel like we’re getting to that point where it’s a must-win. We gotta do everything we possibly can to win the next game.”
Fortunately for the Raptors, they have the New York Knicks coming up on New Year’s Eve. While New York’s 2-2 record that includes a win over the Bucks is nothing to scoff at, they’re still the Knicks and a team the Raptors should have no trouble finishing off.
If they can’t, well then you can panic if you feel the need.