Nothing that the Toronto Raptors have done this season can be considered predictable.
Fast-forward from their 6-12 start to their current place atop the Atlantic Division standings and what lies in between is a truly remarkable story.
The bottom line is that the Dinos are inching closer to a playoff berth for the first time since 2008, which on its own is impressive in many ways. Sprinkle in home-court advantage, a scenario looking more and more likely, and what has emerged is a team a couple years ahead of schedule.
Since dealing Rudy Gay to the Sacramento Kings, the Raptors (30-15) are tied with the Miami Heat (28-14) for the second-best winning percentage in the Eastern Conference at .667. The Indiana Pacers (30-14) are only slightly in front over that period at .681.
Furthermore, the Raptors share the best record in the Eastern Conference since the All-Star break (9-3) with a Brooklyn Nets team that also has designs on claiming the Atlantic Division title.
The current clip that the Raptors are on includes a 99-86 defeat of the Memphis Grizzlies at the Air Canada Centre on Friday night.
Jonas Valanciunas led the way with a season-high 23 points and a game-high nine rebounds. Kyle Lowry (22 points, 12 assists) and Greivis Vasquez (17 points, six assists) also provided plenty of support at the point guard position as the Raptors improved to 37-27.
With the way the Raptors are playing and considering their remaining schedule, there is reason to believe they could put an exclamation point on the 2013-14 campaign by establishing a new franchise record for wins.
In both the 2000-01 and 2006-07 seasons, the Raptors tallied 47 wins.
The first time around resulted in a second place finish in the Central Division and an eventual exit in the conference semifinals. In the second instance, the Raptors were crowned Atlantic Division champions, but were eliminated in the first round.
I will note that the Raptors moved to the Atlantic Division after the 2003-04 season as part of a major realignment.
Of course years have gone by and the players have changed, but there is still value to be found in eclipsing that mark.
With 18 games remaining, simple math reveals that the Raptors could establish a new high of 48 wins by going 11-7 down the stretch.
Here is a quick glance at the remaining opponents.
Phoenix, Oklahoma City, Atlanta, Boston, Houston, Indiana, Philadelphia, New York, Milwaukee
Atlanta, New Orleans, Cleveland, Boston, Orlando, Miami, Milwaukee, Detroit, New York
The breakdown is even with nine at home and nine on the road. The teams in bold letters indicate what, in my opinion, are winnable games. So, in my world at least, the Raptors continue their strong play and end up with 49 wins and 33 losses.
A new franchise record would certainly be a nice addition to what the Raptors are poised to accomplish this season.
However, as we all know, regular season success can only career a team so far.
Tags: Toronto Raptors