Title: Raptors fans still haunted by ghosts of playoffs past, despite team’s dominant regular season
Date: February 28, 2018
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I looked for historical precedent to justify Raptors fans still being anxious about the playoffs despite regular season dominance.
On Wednesday night, the Raptors have a chance to set one of those records that people don’t realize exist until ESPN Stats & Info swoops in or some researcher wants to walk with Elias (Sports Bureau).
Back in February of the 1989-90 season, the Phoenix Suns dominated the league like no other, going 11-1 and outscoring opponents by an average of 15.3 points per game. Led by Tom Chambers and Kevin Johnson with big contributions from Jeff Hornacek, Dan Majerle, Eddie Johnson and Kurt Rambis, the Suns steamrolled everyone in their way save for the 59-23 Portland Trail Blazers, who beat them in Portland by two points and would eventually beat the Suns in six games in the Western Conference finals. Everyone else was fodder – the Suns beat .500 teams by scores of 12 and 25 to start the month, beat up on dregs, beat a very good Utah Jazz team by double-figures, hammered a 52-win Boston Celtics team by 21, and blew out a 53-win Philadelphia 76ers team by 27.
If that sounds familiar, it should — the Raptors are in position to top the Suns for the best February in NBA history, as pointed out by ESPN Stats & Info on Tuesday night. They note that the Raptors are outscoring teams by 15.5 points this month, which if my math is correct, will require a 14-point victory over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday to earn the honour. They are favoured by 9.5 on the road, where they are 16-13 against the spread (the Raptors are 33-26 against the spread overall, because #ProveEm).