Title: Apparently you can’t win ’em all: 15 notes from the end of the Raptors’ 15-game winning streak
Date: February 12, 2020
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about the end of the Raptors franchise-record 15-game winning streak.
It takes a certain amount of time for a streak to become meaningful enough that the end of said streak carries meaning.
It wasn’t until WrestleMania 21, when The Undertaker was 12-0 at The Showcase of the Immortals, that his undefeated streak became the stuff of storyline legend. It was years later when Brock Lesnar offered one of the rare modern-day upsets in the scripted sports world, breaking the streak at 21. Without the slow build of the streak — first quietly, to even establish that it mattered, and then as a meaningful plot point — its end would be meaningless.
It was around the eight-game mark that the Toronto Raptors’ win streak came into focus. The franchise record stood at 11, the record for the entire country (depending on where you draw an inconsistent, arbitrary line) at 14. As they approached the record, it became a talking point, first through the lens of the Raptors’ dismissal of the storyline as important, and later with the concession that it was helping drive the team’s resolve through an otherwise lower-intensity part of the schedule. As it reached 15 on Monday, people began to look ahead — to a streak holding at the All-Star break, to a streak extending to a marquee meeting with the Milwaukee Bucks on Feb. 25 and possibly beyond.
Throughout the streak, the Raptors won several games they had little business winning. They were favorites in 13 of 15, sure, but they were also often injured, engaging in a schedule light on elite competition yet heavy on travel. They got down big and came back. They got up big and held on. Players stepped up in a meaningful fashion each night, raising the level of play as the team around them required. It seemed as if the number of obstacles that would have to get in Toronto’s way to add a loss to its ledger was beyond imagination, or at least beyond imagination outside of Wisconsin.