Do you bear in mind when Home of Playing cards was launched on Netflix? Do you even bear in mind the present? I by no means watched a single episode however, in accordance with a fast Google search, the critically acclaimed drama was launched in 2013.
Are you aware what else occurred in 2013? It was the final calendar 12 months the place the Toronto Raptors completed under .500. Under is Toronto’s regular-season win-loss report (playoff data in brackets) by calendar 12 months since 2013.
2014: 58-27 (3-4)
2015: 45-38 (0-4)
2016: 58-23 (10-10)
2017: 53-31 (4-6)
2018: 62-24 (4-6)
2019: 54-24 (16-8)
2020: 31-11 (7-4)
Contemplating most of final season (all however 4 video games) plus one-third of this season has occurred in 2021, it’s fairly astonishing that the Toronto Raptors have spent a grand complete of 16 days above .500 on this calendar 12 months! With two video games remaining in 2021 and a 14-16 report, that paltry complete isn’t rising this week.
Three trade-related objects occurred in 2013 that helped shift the franchise from a frequent customer of the lottery to a perennial playoff contender.
- Desk Setter: Masai Ujiri pulled his first jedi-mind-trick on the New York Knicks by off-loading Andrea Bargnani’s contract AND snagging a first-round choose (that will grow to be Jakob Poeltl).
- Large Commerce: Later that 12 months, he traded Rudy Homosexual in a bundle that included gamers which are nonetheless paying dividends right this moment in John Salmons (who would, in flip, grow to be eventual Sixth Man of the 12 months award winner Lou Williams) and Greivis Vasquez (who would grow to be OG Anunoby and Norm Powell, who would grow to be Gary Trent Jr.).
- Non-Commerce: The Raptors and Knicks additionally walked away from a potential deal that will’ve despatched Kyle Lowry to New York.
The returns are early however three occasions in 2021 trace at one other potential rebirth.
- Desk Setter: The roster is decimated by COVID-related points and the group decides to tank their method right into a beneficial draft place, which in the end lands them Scottie Barnes.
- Large Commerce: Raptors commerce Powell for GTJ. Just like the Homosexual commerce, the preliminary response was not of awe and wonderment. Nonetheless, Trent Jr. has rapidly grow to be an integral piece of the rotation. Whether or not he stays because the offensive launch valve and defensive pest or will get bundled in a commerce, the commerce is already a win for the franchise.
- Non-Commerce: There aren’t any rumours (but) of any trades that fell by, however something Daryl Morey has requested in return for Ben Simmons in all probability qualifies right here.
2021 didn’t finish very nicely for the Raptors however wholesome our bodies are on the horizon and the group continues to be within the playoff hunt. A home of playing cards that falls aside is disheartening at first. However that simply provides you a chance to construct a good larger home (and possibly choose up some Emmy awards alongside the best way). Now, let’s put this 12 months to mattress with the ultimate previews of 2021.
December 28 vs Philadelphia 76ers
The beginning lineups for each groups will look fully completely different from when these groups matched up on Remembrance Day. All of Toronto’s starters on November 11 — Fred VanVleet, Scottie Barnes, Anunoby, GTJ, and Treasured Achiuwa — needs to be out, attributable to well being & security protocols. For Philadelphia, their main rebounder (Andre Drummond) and starter with the best plus/minus (Danny Inexperienced) from the November 11 sport ought to all be out, attributable to well being & security protocols. The key phrase for each of these sentences is “ought to.”
The Sixers will probably be comforted to have Joel Embiid (who missed the sooner assembly) within the lineup. When the Raptors’ low season strikes had been accomplished, the one obvious gap was at heart. Having a flexible group that would swap to Nick Nurse’s coronary heart’s content material was all good in precept, so long as the opponent didn’t have an enormous like Embiid. Gulp.
Embiid’s effectivity numbers have dropped (career-lows in FG%, 2-pt FG%, and eFG%) which, at first look, I’d have attributed to the absence (and playmaking potential) of Simmons. Nonetheless, Embiid’s utilization fee is under his profession common, his VORP is the bottom it’s been since his rookie season, and, whereas he’s been comparatively wholesome (taking part in in 22 of the group’s 33 video games), the Sixers are just one sport over .500.
Disappointing report apart, I’m not betting in opposition to Embiid on the highway. Of the eight video games the place he’s scored 30 or extra, six have come on the highway, together with a 36-point outburst in Washington on Sunday.
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131 = Variety of days between when the Toronto Raptors gained the 2019 NBA championship and when many of the group acquired their rings.
285 = Variety of days between when the Toronto Raptors gained the 2019 NBA championship and when Danny Inexperienced was presupposed to obtain his ring, as a member of the visiting Los Angeles Lakers. The pandemic paused the season and the Raptors had been moved to Orlando, then Tampa, so Inexperienced selected to proceed ready till he may obtain his ring at Scotiabank Area.
558 = Variety of days between when the Toronto Raptors gained the 2019 NBA championship and when Danny Inexperienced acquired his 2020 NBA championship ring with the Lakers.
929 = Variety of days between when the Toronto Raptors gained the 2019 NBA championship and when Danny Inexperienced was presupposed to obtain his ring, as a member of the visiting Philadelphia 76ers. The pandemic pressured the Raptors to scale back capability at Scotiabank Area to 50%…..AND Inexperienced entered Well being & Security protocols.
1,029 = Variety of days between when the Toronto Raptors gained the 2019 NBA championship and when Danny Inexperienced will lastly(?) obtain his ring, as a member of the visiting Philadelphia 76ers.
The Raptors may need Pascal Siakam again for this sport, however the remainder of the group ought to (there’s that phrase once more) nonetheless be out. Just like Dalano Banton’s return on Sunday, Siakam will in all probability be eased again into the rotation with some type of a minutes restriction. Even when the group resembled something near a full roster, the Sixers would punish/plow/pump-fake their method to the charity stripe. Philadelphia is #1 in free throw fee. Embiid, Tobias Harris, and Tyrese Maxey mix to common 17.5 free throw makes an attempt, whereas your entire Raptors group averages 18.8. Sixers defeat the still-depleted Raptors, 122-107.
December 31 vs Los Angeles Clippers
The Raptors are catching the Clippers at an opportunistic time. Along with being in the course of a three-game highway journey the place Toronto is sandwiched between video games in Boston and Brooklyn, Los Angeles may also be with out their MVP candidate, Paul George, who’s coping with an harm to his taking pictures elbow.
With a handful of gamers in well being & security protocols — Reggie Jackson, Jay Scrubb, and Marcus Morris (though Morris could also be again for this sport) — the Clippers used one in every of their hardship exemptions on Xavier Moon. The reigning 3-time CEBL MVP, reigning 2-time CEBL Finals MVP (and champion), can be the nephew of former Raptors legend, Jamario Moon.
If that didn’t make you are feeling all heat and fuzzy, the Clippers’ present predicament additionally permits extra taking part in time for an additional Raptors legend, Serge Ibaka. Mafuzzy Chef has been out and in of the lineup all through his two seasons with Los Angeles attributable to accidents however is coming off his second consecutive double-digit scoring sport on Sunday. The final time he had back-to-back double-digit scoring video games had been the ultimate two video games of final season.
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On Might 16, 2021 — the ultimate day of the 2020-21 common season — the Clippers had a possibility to dictate their first-round playoff opponent. Dealing with the lottery-bound (and tanking) Oklahoma City Thunder, the Clips may take the W however face a red-hot Portland Trailblazers squad (winners of 10 of their remaining 12 video games) or take the L and face a Dallas Mavericks squad with a wholesome Paul George and Kawhi Leonard to throw at Luka Doncic.
Former Clipper, and latest Raptor, Daniel Oturu had by no means performed greater than 12 minutes throughout his rookie season…..till Might 16, 2021, the place Lawrence Frank had him on the ground for over 37 minutes! To the possession’s delight, Oturu shot 5-for-21 (acquired his first and solely double-double with 13 factors and 12 rebounds) and the Clippers misplaced.
Oturu’s performed 9 video games since (eight playoff video games with L.A. and one sport with Toronto) for a grand complete of 35 minutes!
Toronto can have an additional day of relaxation on their opponent AND many of the gamers can have cleared well being and security protocols. Nothing’s ever sure lately however Nurse already alluded to a number of gamers returning this week. If Morris doesn’t swimsuit up for the Clippers (or is restricted in his return), that will strip Los Angeles of their prime three scorers (PG & Jackson). That additionally doesn’t embrace Kawhi Leonard, who’s nowhere close to returning (to the Clippers. To the Raptors, although….okay I’ll cease). Luke Kennard will in all probability try 10 triples (and make half of them). Eric Bledsoe will in all probability try three wide-open triples (by design, and miss all of them). Ivica Zubac will in all probability corral 5 offensive rebounds (within the first half). But, much like how final New 12 months’s Eve went, Toronto will pull out a victory in entrance of a variety of empty seats. The Raptors use a gradual eating regimen of transition factors and offensive board-crashing to finish 2021 with a victory over the Clippers, 110-98.
January 2 vs New York Knicks
The final time the Raptors had a “common” sport the place each groups had been comparatively wholesome was Toronto’s 90-87 victory over New York at Scotiabank Area on December tenth. (Sure, the next sport in opposition to Sacramento would qualify, however are you able to truthfully take the Kings severely?)
The latest surge of gamers in well being & security protocols, together with the ankle surgical procedure undergone by Derrick Rose, has supplied an sudden spark from Kemba Walker. After falling fully out of the rotation for 10 video games, his re-insertion into the beginning lineup has been nothing wanting outstanding. He scored 29 in his return, 21 in a victory over Detroit, and a monstrous 44-point outing (with 9 boards and eight dimes too) in opposition to Washington. Walker topped it off with a Christmas Day triple-double and victory over the Hawks.
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The Knicks may need the best assortment of nicknames within the NBA, in accordance with BasketballReference.com.
Julius Randle: Beyblade, Orange Julius, Don Julio
Alec Burks: Houdini, A-Buckets
Mitchell Robinson: Block Ness Monster, Lobinson
RJ Barrett: Maple Mamba, Ducky, Headband Ro, Star-J, Broadway Barrett, Duke of York
Taj Gibson: Exhausting Hat, Lunch Pail
Nerlens Noel: The Eraser, The Nerlen Wall
The Knicks will probably be wrapping up a 4-games-in-6-nights highway journey. They’ll even be coming to city after going through the 2 worst offenses within the league in Oklahoma Metropolis and Detroit. The Raptors’ Sixth-ranked offense (over the past 2 weeks) will probably be a punch within the face for the road-weary Knicks. Numerous this depends upon who’s within the lineup for the Raptors, however most ought to (rattling, that phrase once more) be out of protocols and in uniform for the primary sport of 2022. Toronto has a 10-game successful streak at Scotiabank Area when the Knicks are on the town. That quantity grows to 11 because the Raptors beat the Knicks, 100-97.