- The Raptors righted the ship last week after struggling.
- But that momentum has been squashed by a sudden rash of injuries.
- With Toronto poised to fall down the standings, could Masai Ujiri blow it up at the trade deadline?
The Toronto Raptors righted the ship. Just when it seemed they were veering off course following a strong start to the season, losing four out of five games in early December, they responded by reeling off three impressive victories.
Just because Toronto refused to let those struggles linger for too long, though, hardly means it’s ready to climb the conference standings. In fact, due to a sudden rash of injuries, don’t be surprised if the Raptors fall behind the East’s top-five over the coming weeks – potentially sparking a league-altering move at the trade deadline.
Biting Injury Bug
Toronto has already withstood injuries to key contributors as it enters Friday’s game against the Washington Wizards at 19-8, with the league’s sixth-best net rating. Kyle Lowry missed 11 straight games after fracturing his left thumb on Nov. 8, an absence that overlapped with Serge Ibaka’s 10-game layoff due to a sprained right ankle.
Most left the Raptors for dead without Lowry and Ibaka, veteran stalwarts who were playing exceptionally well before going down with injury. But Toronto went 9-2 until both players were back in the lineup, an eye-popping stretch of play that began with a win over the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center.
The Raptors, clearly, have the necessary depth to thrive even when multiple rotation players are sidelined. But the indefinite absences of Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol, and Norman Powell that the team announced on Thursday seem likely to prompt a downturn in their play regardless.
All three players were injured during Wednesday’s victory over the Detroit Pistons. It’s hardly encouraging that Toronto offered no timeline for their return to the floor, instead merely announcing that they will be…