Raptors historic winning streak ends at 15 with 101-91 loss to the Nets
All good things must come to an end, and that includes the longest winning streak in Toronto Raptors franchise history. After 15 straight wins, the Raptors (finally) lost, 101-91 to the Nets in Brooklyn on Wednesday night. Prior to the loss in Brooklyn, the defending champion Raptors hadn’t dropped a game since January 12; a complete calendar month. They had also won 10 road games in a row.
The winning streak was impressive as it was not only the longest in Raptors history, the Raptors became the first Canadian professional sports franchise to win 15 or more games in a row in any major American professional sports league (the NBA, NFL, NHL or MLB). During the steak Toronto was able to climb up to second in the Eastern Conference playoff picture — 6.5 games behind the top-seeded Bucks and two games ahead of the third-seeded Celtics — heading into All-Star weekend.
The fact that the Raptors have been as good as they have so far this season is extremely impressive considering all the various injury issues that they have had to deal with, and the fact that the top player from their title team last season, reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, signed with the Clippers in free agency and the organization didn’t replace him with any flashy, marquee names. Head coach Nick Nurse has been a big reason for the team’s success, as he continues to find ways to maximize the talent that he has to work with. Nurse has a very solid Coach of the Year case that was certainly strengthened during the streak. Pascal Siakam has also been central to success for the Raptors, as the reigning Most Improved Player has blossomed into an All-Star in Leonard’s absence. On the season he’s averaging 23.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1 steal per game for Toronto.
Though the Raptors didn’t necessarily want to head into the All-Star break fresh off of a loss, they will use the time away as a chance to refresh and reset for what they hope is another long playoff push.
“You’ve been grinding since September, you need this time to kind of mentally decompress, physically decompress.” Kyle Lowry said after the loss to the Nets. “Let guys go live their lives, and then we come back together and have a newfound excitement to see each other again. That’s the one thing about the break it gives you that time away from your brothers … Then when you get back together it’s kind of like ‘alright fellas, good to see you, let’s have some more fun.'”
The Raptors may not have the same star power that they had last season, but they still have a ton of talent and championship experience, and as a result, they’ll be a team that no one wants to run into in the postseason.