The Toronto Raptors have the lengthiest active winning streak in the NBA at the moment. Winners of eleven straight games, Toronto have practically buried the New York Knicks as contenders for the Atlantic Division. Furthermore, second-placed Boston are now six games back of the lead following a Celtics’ loss on Sunday. When it comes to the Eastern Conference as a whole, Toronto are barely behind the Cleveland Cavaliers for the top spot.
But the Raptors’ recent schedule has been home-game heavy. For instance, they completed a seven-game homestand on Saturday with a win over the Detroit Pistons. While some victories in their homestand have been against below average teams, like the Washington Wizards, Toronto do have reasonably strong wins against Boston, Miami, and the Clippers.
Kyle Lowry and Demar DeRozan have been two major standouts for the Raptors lately. For instance, in games against Boston and Miami, DeRozan scored 34 and 33 respectively while Lowry has been the team-leading scorer in six of their eleven victories.
Sitting just a little back of top spot in the Eastern Conference, the Raptors might look like contenders for the conference championship. The Raptors do have a victory over Cleveland this season and one against San Antonio as well. Perhaps this year will be the year that Toronto add a series win to their franchise’s piddly total of one from over two decades of existence now.
Around the Association, the Golden State Warriors are still the talk of the league. The 2015/16 Warriors have a chance to better the historical mark for best record in the NBA. The Chicago Bulls, 20 seasons ago, went 72-10, and Golden State are currently just a four-loss team in large part thanks to their huge winning streak to start the season.
The divisional races largely remain uncompetitive at this time, and you could actually start talking about some of them practically being over. With still more than 30 games left in the season it would take a shocking turn of events to see GS lose their 12-game lead over the Clippers. San Antonio aren’t quite as invincible as the Warriors, but how likely are they to lose an 11.5-game lead over Memphis? Even a horrible slide in form for the Spurs coupled with fantastic, consistent play from the Grizzlies might see San Antonio still squeak the division title out.
OKC, with a .735 winning percentage, are a lock in the Northwest while Cleveland and Toronto have comfortable leads. The only division that is close at this point is the Southeast with Miami’s first-placed lead just a half game over Atlanta.
For recent NBA.com headlines, Jeff Hornacek has been fired in Phoenix. The February 1st report cites a 2-19 “skid,” one that has taken the Suns out of contention this season.
With the Super Bowl to go next weekend, a lot of North American sports fans might still have NBA basketball on the back burner. However, when the NFL season is over the NBA will be primed for their Valentine’s Day All-Star game in Toronto followed by the homestretch of the regular season. While the divisional races are not generally competitive, with home court advantage so important in the NBA playoffs, the races for high seeds promise to make the final couple of months interesting.