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Raptors trending in the right direction amidst COVID chaos

Things are getting ugly for the Toronto Raptors and the entire NBA.

With COVID-19 cases skyrocketing over the last couple of weeks, an excess of players are missing time and more and more games are being postponed every day. Of the games that are played, fans are having a hard time identifying who is taking the floor for their favorite team, and some of the highly-anticipated Christmas Day games were played without key players. It is and has been a far from ideal situation for the league, the players and the fans. However amidst the chaos, fans of the Raptors have some really good reason to be excited about their team moving forward. That is if or when things settle down and get closer to normalcy.

Raptors have won five of last seven

The Raptors have quietly put together a really impressive stretch of basketball over the last couple of weeks. It is worth noting that the team has played merely one game over the last 12 days due to three postponements. The games played prior to those postponements were minimally affected by health and safety protocol.

Toronto has won five of their last seven games. The two losses came as a one-point decision, and an overtime coin-flip. Raptors fans would argue they probably should have won both of those games and should be riding a seven-game win streak. It did not play out that way, but without two last minute defensive breakdowns, it would have. They were that close.

Nonetheless, the Raptors’ numbers over this 5-2 run are very impressive. Over the past seven games, the Raptors have the sixth-best offense in the NBA with a 114.1 offensive rating. Defensively, they rank third over that span with a 105.5 defensive rating. Overall they sit second at +9.1 points per 100 possessions; a pace that would have them third in the NBA if kept up for the whole season. They have been really good on both ends of the floor, and that is with rising star OG Anunoby missing all but one of those games.

The Raptors now rank 11th, 15th and 10th, respectively, in those categories overall. Amazingly, they have moved into the top half of the league in both offensive and defensive efficiency, after a very inconsistent start to the season on both ends of the floor.

Raptors getting substantial production out of starters

The Raptors have not been a team one might describe as deep. Injuries have not helped, but Toronto’s bench has been at or near the bottom of the league all season. Head coach Nick Nurse has relied heavily on his starters to win games, and they have been doing just that.

Over the last seven games, Pascal Siakam has done a little bit of everything for the Raptors, recording 21.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.7 assists per games on 48.1% shooting.

Fred Vanvleet has heated up from beyond the arc, shooting 42.3% from distance on 10.1 attempts per game. He is also shooting 91.3% from the free throw line, helping him score 20.7 points per contest and dish out 7.7 assists.

Raptors rookie sensation Scottie Barnes continues to stuff the stat sheet night in and night out. He has put up 16.3 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game and has seemingly added a three-point shot to his arsenal. He has hit his three-balls at a 36.0% clip on 3.6 attempts per game over this stretch.

Gary Trent Jr. continues to take and make big shots. He has averaged 15.3 points and 2.6 steals per game over his last seven on 41.2% from downtown.

Canadian Chris Boucher has played his best stretch of basketball of the season after a really tough start. He has put up 11.1 points and 6.4 rebounds per game on 53.4% shooting in just 22.4 minutes per game.

Up next

The Raptors now sit at 14-15 on the season and a single win away from .500. With a severely depleted roster, they will take on the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday evening on the road.