What's going on with the Toronto Raptors?
When the regular season began, the Raptors were forescasted by just about everyone as one of the top 5 or 6 teams in the Eastern Conference. At one point during the preseason, Toronto was listed at 20-1 odds to win the NBA championship.
In other words, they were contenders.
Now, they're pretenders.
Wait. The Raptors aren't pretenders. They're just awful.
Although some teams in the Eastern Conference were expected to be better as reflected by betting futures odds – including Milwaukee, Brooklyn, Boston, Miami, and Philadelphia – after a very disappointing preseason showing, the Raptors dropped from 20 to 1 earlier to the longer odds of 23 to 1 when the new season tipped off on December 21st. That was a sign of the fall to come.
Now, three weeks into the regular season, the Raptors are 51 to 1 to win the NBA title. Faith in Toronto is dropping faster than Rob Ford's prospects of staging a political comeback.
Oh, Ford's dead, by the way.
The Raptors are currently 2-8. Worse, they have looked awful, with a point differential of minus 11 points-per-game. Those are horrible numbers and there are no excuses, except perhaps the temporary relocation to Tampa due to travel restictions in place due to COVID-19.
The opening night loss to New Orleans could be forgiven, but the way the Raptors lost their next game, to San Antonio, was a clear indication that this team went completely out of sync. Toronto played poorly in the shortened preseason as well, but many observers expected this talented young squad would turn things around quickly when the games really mattered. But that hasn't been the case, so far.
After yet a another loss on Tuesday, the Raptors just wrapped up their four-game road trip, losing 3 out of 4. Their two wins have come against the the dregs of the league – New York (who shot 3-for-36 from 3-point range) and Sacramento (yuck). There are no positives from looking at the standings, but that hasn't stopped lots of speculation about where this team is headed.
Last night, the Raptors blew it again. Leading by 10 at the end of the 3rd quarter, it looked like Toronto would pick up it's first victory versus a quality opponent, at Portland. Then, the Trailblazers rattled off 36 points in the 4th quarter and won the game by a basket after the Raptors' final shot fell off the rim. What a bitter defeat.
Clearly, it's panic time in Toronto, and Tampa – which is where the Raptors will be at home the next few games. This team needs to win a few, and right now.
Otherwise, a long season will suddenly be very short for this team and make the Raptors arguably the most disappointing team in the NBA.