The trade deadline is gone and the All-Star Game is coming soon and the hottest team in the NBA is…the Toronto Raptors. Yes, you remember the defending NBA champions who lost their star in NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard.
The Raptors have won a franchise record 14 straight games and have not lost since a Jan. 12 game against San Antonio. What the rest of the NBA should take note of is how the Raptors have been winning. Toronto has had a number of injuries, the most recent being point guard Kyle Lowry. Despite those injuries, the Raptors continue to win.
Head coach Nick Nurse has Toronto putting pressure on the Los Angeles Lakers for the second-best record in the NBA behind Milwaukee. Speaking of the Bucks, Toronto (39-14) trails the Eastern Conference leaders by 6.5 games. The Raptors have a 1.5-game lead over third-place Boston and a 4.5-game lead over fourth-place Miami.
Anyone that watched the NBA Finals last year knows how important home-court advantage can be in winning a championship. That is why the Raptors overtaking the Lakers for the second-best record in the league has significance.
Pascal Siakam has blossomed into a true star averaging 23.4 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. Lowry, who suffered whiplash, is listed as questionable for a Monday game in Minnesota. Lowry averages 19.6 points and 7.4 assists a game. Toronto plays Minnesota on Wednesday before the All-Star break.
The Raptors are the fifth-best team in the league in points allowed per game giving up just over 105. Nurse’s bench has been outstanding. Norman Powell, Serge Ibaka, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and Terence Davis average 44.6 points and 20.3 rebounds a game. In today’s era of the superteam, Toronto is the antithesis and that’s what makes them dangerous.