When the season began, the NBA’s Eastern Conference was supposed to be a two-team battle between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics. However, the Toronto Raptors are currently the East’s best team – and it’s not even particularly close.
The league’s only team from north of the border boasts the NBA’s best home record (27-5) and second-best margin of victory (+8.6). The next-highest average point differential in the East belongs to Boston, at +4.3. To demonstrate how dominant the Raptors have been, consider that if every one of the Celtics’ 20 losses this season were instead a five-point victory (giving them a 65-0 record in the process), their updated +8.4 margin of victory would still trail Toronto’s.
NBA Teams With The Highest Average Margin Of Victory
|Golden State Warriors||8.58|
|San Antonio Spurs||2.94|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||2.58|
|Portland Trail Blazers||2.23|
Led by guards, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry (both among the league’s top 20 in Win Shares), the Raptors have built these impressive numbers against some of the NBA’s best opponents. In January, they blew out the Cavs by 34 points in their only meeting to date. In February, they trounced Boston by 20, after dropping their first matchup by a single point. Earlier this season, Toronto won in Houston (sans Chris Paul) by 16. For good measure, they swept two games each against Portland (the West’s current #3 seed, by 39 total points) and New Orleans (#4 in the West).
Their one blemish may be their 0-2 record against the Golden State Warriors. The defending league champions, however, narrowly escaped both games by an average of just 3.5 points.
The Raptors aren’t just winning games on one end of the floor; they are as balanced as any team in the league. In fact, they’re in the top six in both offensive points per game and defensive points allowed per game; no other club is among the top 10 in both categories.
Overall, Toronto is on pace to win 60 games this year, which would easily set a new franchise mark. Perhaps more impressively, they are in excellent position to compete for their first NBA title – and the first for Canada in any of the four major sports in a quarter of a century.
Unless otherwise noted, all stats above are from Basketball-Reference.com.
(photo by Keith Allison)