Putting the Streak in Perspective

January 31st, 2016 | by aaron Nemtean
Putting the Streak in Perspective
sports and toronto
42

By Aaron:

Newsflash: The Toronto Raptors are on an 11 game winning streak, the longest in the history of their franchise. One would think this would be cause for celebration, over-exuberance and unrealistic knee jerk reactions. You would think writers and pundits would be penciling Toronto in to the Conference finals, and debating their legitimate chances against team Lebron. However, from what I’ve read and heard, this is not the case. For whatever reason, there has been cautious optimism about this streak, and for that I am surprised and satisfied.

There is no doubt that the Toronto Raptors’ win streak is something to marvel at but the media is beginning to smarten up for a change when it comes to assessing its significance. In my opinion, the Raptors have been burned so much in the past by promising regular season accomplishments that the media is finally proceeding with caution and putting this streak in its proper perspective. For instance, last year the media practically ceded the Raptors a first round win due to their impressive regular season accomplishments. We all know how that turned out – a first round sweep to the lower seeded Washington Wizards – and I think the media doesn’t want to be embarrassed again. Let’s not forget, their livelihoods depend on having at least a scintilla of vision when it comes to predictions – all homerism aside.

For instance, in the Globe and Mail on Saturday, Rachel Brady downplayed the streak and tried to frame it in a perspective that was extremely objective. Often, writers are quick to praise impressive short-term feats, but her perspective was very thoughtful and unbiased. She writes:

“Those overexcited about the streak ought to consider that while impressive – only three of those victories came against teams in playoff position. They should also take note of the lengthy list of stars the Raptors did not have to face during that time. The Knicks were without Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingas and Jose Calderon. The Wizards didn’t play Bradley Beal. The Clippers were sans Blake Griffin. Dwayne Wade played through a shoulder injury for a heat squad missing Luol Deng and Hassan Whiteside”.

How incredibly objective and refreshing it was to hear that from a Toronto sports writer. An 11 game win streak is nothing to sneeze at but when you beat 7 non-playoff teams (including the woeful experiment known as the Philadelphia 76ers) and the playoff teams you face have injury issues, then she is absolutely right to put it in its proper perspective. Well done! Just as a point of order, her article was written before the Raptors beat a playoff-bound Detroit Pistons team later that night.

Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun, through the conduit of Luis Scola, also helped put the streak in perspective. Luis Scola downplayed the importance of the streak, knowing first hand how unimportant it is and how non-predictive it is of future success. He would know first hand, while playing for that unheralded 2008 Houston Rockets team that won 22 straight games and went on to lose in the first round of the playoffs. Luis Scola expressed to Mr. Ganter that winning the most games and playoff success is the most important thing, not a winning streak.

There is nothing wrong with a winning streak. It’s a positive thing and something that should be appreciated. However, take it from Luis Scola who went on a streak more than twice as long as this current one.

“Luis Scola, one of the old heads in the room was part of a 22-game winning streak in Houston in 2008. It’s the fourth longest one in league history and to hear Scola tell it, he barely has any memories of it.”

He barely has any memories of it because it led to nothing in the playoffs. Good on Mr. Ganter for seeking out a player who understands what a winning streak means in the big picture. Winning streaks are not the end goal for this frustrated Raptors squad. A deep playoff run is the only thing that matters, and frankly, the only thing keeping coach Casey’s job intact, in my opinion. In closing, I am very happy that the media seems tempered by this winning streak, even if it’s because of past negative conditioning.

42 Comments

  1. Bora says:

    A big yawn until this team actually does something in the playoffs.

  2. I was at two games this past week, this past Tuesday against Washington and last night against Detroit and in both games I never had the feeling that the Raptors were going to lose, even when they were down a bit early or in a close game later.

    This team at home playing every second day against injury depleted teams often playing back-to-backs on the road the odds were heavily stacked in the Raptors favour.

    What wa interesting is how muted the fans are, understanding how 11, 15, or even 22 games in a row is no guarantee of playoff success. I agree the media has gone out of their way not to build them up too much and are also taking a “wait and see approach.”

    So much of the playoffs are who is healthier and what match-ups you get. With the Raptors solidly in 2nd place 5 games up on the Bulls for 3rd place they are set up for a winnable 1st round match-up and avoiding Cleveland told the eastern finals if they make it.

    One thing is for sure, if they lose in there first round with their renowned defence then Casey’s job status will be heavily analyzed and discussed by both media and fans.

  3. I was at two games this past week, this past Tuesday against Washington and last night against Detroit and in both games I never had the feeling that the Raptors were going to lose, even when they were down a bit early or in a close game later.

    This team at home playing every second day against injury depleted teams often playing back-to-backs on the road the odds were heavily stacked in the Raptors favour.

    What was interesting is how muted the fans are, understanding how 11, 15, or even 22 games in a row is no guarantee of playoff success. I agree the media has gone out of their way not to build them up too much and are also taking a “wait and see approach.”

    So much of the playoffs are who is healthier and what match-ups you get. With the Raptors solidly in 2nd place 5 games up on the Bulls for 3rd place they are set up for a winnable 1st round match-up and avoiding Cleveland till the eastern finals if they make it.

    One thing is for sure, if they lose in their first round with their renowned defence then Casey’s job status will be heavily analyzed and discussed by both media and fans.

  4. Sam says:

    Good article.

    I find it hard to get excited in basketball when basically its only a very small # of teams that have a chance to win the championship.

    On the plus side, Barkley was on Bill Simmons podcast this week and did include Toronto in his best 5 teams (IIRC) in the league (CLE, NO, SA, GS).

    • aaron Nemtean says:

      Thanks Sam!

      Yeah Unfortunately, I’d only give 3 teams a serious chance to win the ‘chip this year (Dubs, Cavs, Spurs) with an outside chance to OKC and a punchers chance for the Clippers.

      Pleasantly surprised Barkley put the Raps as one of the 5 best teams but I’m a little skeptical since he also had the 18-28 Pelicans. That’s absurd.

  5. torontosportsmedia says:

    And a big welcome to some long overdue Toronto Raptors media coverage wouldn’t you say???

  6. Rob J says:

    I don’t think its that the media don’t want to be embarrassed about over-rating a Tor tean’s prospects (since that’s all they’ve done in my 4 decades of observing), its that most citizens of Tor and Canada in general don’t give a second thought to basketball

    • aaron Nemtean says:

      Well the arena is packed every night so I don’t know where you are coming from there.
      Also, try looking at the All-Star game ticket prices and tell me citizens of Toronto and Canada don’t care about basketball.

  7. AP says:

    Something happened in the media on Friday. I had two separate non sports fans text me to ask me if it was true the Raptors were good. They were a news story on Global and CTV evening news. I couldn’t help but feel like the media blitz was “purchased” by MLSE. Maybe as a lead into the all-star game.

    • aaron Nemtean says:

      Why wouldn’t a reputable news station cover a Toronto professional sports team that is on a historic win streak, just like they would with the Leafs or Jays?

  8. Rob J says:

    @Aaron
    Obviously the arena is full nightly but outside of that group, interest falls off considerably as surveys ranking teams’ popularity show. But its neat you’re a fan.

    • aaron Nemtean says:

      I think the ticket prices speak for themselves about the interest in basketball in this city, and I would love to see these surveys you speak of.. Furthermore, why are you even commenting on a basketball post if you have no interest in the sport anyways?

  9. William D says:

    Toronto is famous for treating winning streaks and other unimportant achievements like championships. It’s quite possible that these achievements are Toronto’s version of a championship, the net result or winning streaks or some kind of achievement that is not a championship in Toronto renders the same reaction as a city that has just won it all. i.e Media going crazy and getting fans hype, highlights run over and over, it boils down to this I think Toronto has really been abused as far as championship contention goes and we’re traumatized to the point of cheering hard core at winning streaks, individual stats and at times how many Canadian born players are on a team. we’ve even gone as far as becoming more invested in our GM than the actual product on the ice or hardwood i.e Brian Colangelo and Brian Burke. The entire Toronto sports scene lends itself to the question, When will the two words marry in this sports scene, the two words are Championship Team. There is no doubt in my mind that if those two words come together the focus will shift from these artificial components the media and fan base deems as important.

    • aaron Nemtean says:

      Well, the media’s job is to create a positive storyline of the Toronto Raptors in order to give fans hope and optimism. Often times, you are right, they go overboard and have unrealistic expectations about the home team. That’s where I come in. Calling them out on this whenever I can. Stay tuned.

  10. Rob J says:

    @Aaron
    I’m interested in media coverage. I don’t care for Donald Trump but observing how he’s covered is of interest. But yeah, if your column is meant to be a way to show your love for the Raptors, I likely won’t be drawn to it

  11. Sam says:

    Whoops sorry Aaron Barkley said OKC. My bad.

    • aaron Nemtean says:

      That makes sense. Glad he said that. Unfortunately, I’m not his biggest fan when it comes to predictions or basketball analysis in general.

  12. William D says:

    @Rob J
    Here Here

    Not enough objectivity in the Toronto sports landscape. Toronto sports media filled with apologists and cheerleaders.

  13. AP says:

    True coverage of NBA media would be too hardcore this site.

    Interestingly, real Raps fans don’t read Rachel Brady, so coverage of her is also missing the boat.

    Here’s a topic. Why do the Raps keep Leo Rautins around if fans don’t like him?

  14. Rob J says:

    @William D
    If only the media cheerleaders had a winner to at least cheer for! The media are more excited about Tor teams now than ever despite the results. Hmmmm, wonder if the fact that the Big 2 companies own the teams as well as the TV and radio rights? Nah, that’s kooky talk

    • aaron Nemtean says:

      Well if that’s what you think then you are going to love reading my column because I plan on pointing out the biases and cheerleading that goes on with the coverage of this team!

  15. Rob J says:

    Aaron, do you really think its the media’s job to create positive storylines to give fans hope and optimism? That’s the job of PR people hired by the team. The media’s job is to provide unbiased reporting of the goings-on to enlighten the fans.

  16. aaron nemtean says:

    Depends on the media outlet. If it comes from a sportsnet writer per se, they may want to focus on the positive of a team that is owned by their bosses. That’s just the nature of the beast. Their job is to be unbiased so in some cases I think they have incentives to be biased in order to attract fans and in some cases they are just flat out wrong on their own accord.

  17. Sam In Scarb says:

    Clicked on comments about a Raptors blurb wondering why there is so many comments.
    Then I see 12 of 27 comments are from the author.
    Nuff said.

  18. Jonathan Giggs says:

    “Well, the media’s job is to create a positive storyline of the Toronto Raptors in order to give fans hope and optimism.” Um, no!

  19. AP says:

    You have your work cut out for you, Aaron. Just look at the vitriol from hockey pucks who don’t want to see a basketball related link that they can choose not to click on.

  20. billyjoejimbob says:

    “Well, the media’s job is to create a positive storyline of the Toronto Raptors in order to give fans hope and optimism.”

    LOL

    Good hire by this website. Understands media very well.

  21. aaron nemtean says:

    Trust me Billy I will not disappoint you. I will be a GREAT hire!

  22. MattK says:

    @SIS I didn’t realize the number of people commenting had anything to do with the quality of the article.

    I haven’t watched as much Raptors this year as usual, once the playoffs approach I will.

  23. Jacob says:

    Loved the first post. Just some constructive criticism, I would recommend shortening the paragraph length. It would make the piece easier to read.

  24. Sperk says:

    I fail to understand Jack Armstrong ‘s popularity…he spends at least 25%-50% talking about things other than the game in front of him and his “analysis” is usually that the Raptors have to try hard.

    I find no value hearing someone scream like an imbecile every time beer is mentioned or when there is a blocked shot. I don’t want to hear someone sing christmas carols when the game is on. This season is the worst it’s been as the producer/director now has to go to replay every time the Raps block a shot so Jack can scream incomprehensibly about garbage and often they miss parts of the game when they do…and since blocked shots often go out of bounds, it’s been more than a few times when the coverage has missed baskets off of the ensuing in-bounds play.

    When he does actually gets to the game, all he adds is cliches about being tough and effort. He talks in generalities that, in essence, make no sense. LeBron can be stopped if you prevent him from shooting, passing and driving on you….ok, how? Golden State was beatable if you stop Curry, Klay and Draymond….wow, thanks for that.

    I am not a fan of schtick and Jack has crossed the line into the unlistenable due to his reliance on his bits and lack of depth in other areas. Originally, I thought Chuck Swisky was pretty good but then the entire broadcast became the Chuck Catch Phrase Show. Unfortunately, I think Jack is on that path as being a “personality” is now as important as the game he is covering and that tendency is increasing each year.

    It’s a shame as the guy was an NCAA coach and obviously knows the game…we just never get to hear about it.

  25. Sperk says:

    Aaron – I should have also mentioned in the above that you did a great job on the article and I am looking forward to your future posts

  26. RJ says:

    For what it’s worth, the site ‘awfulannouncing’ had the Raptors broadcast team ranked 6th, but I have no idea if that’s warranted because, well, I think basketball is generally dull and uninteresting if not there in person.

  27. Sperk says:

    RJ _ I think I saw that a while ago as well. The best analogy I’ve heard (and I am stealing this I think from a Raptors HQ podcast) is that Jack Armstrong is like your crazy uncle. If you hear from him once in a while (which I’d guess Awful Announcing does) he seems harmless and you laugh at him not with him. If you hear from him on a regular basis he’ll annoy you to no end.

  28. RJ says:

    Sperk,
    When Armstrong graced the FAN airways as a PTS guest, it was a race for my finger to hit that fast-forward button on my ipod. BTW, anyone know why Rovell has been MIA on PTS?

  29. Sperk, interesting analysis on Jack Armstrong. Jack at his worst is still by far better than Leo at his best, but having said that, you make some valid points. Whenever on Raptors NBA tv they show old games especially during the Vince Carter era there is a completely different Jack.

    This Jack, not that far removed from coaching at Niagara, announced from a coach’s perspective, but over time the schtick took over. Amazing how straight he called games when starting out. Obviously he was just following what the Raptors wanted, as a paid employee and we have the Jack we have now.

    Do I prefer the Jack who called Kobe’s 81 points against us? Yes, but I still love the guy, and get enough out of his broadcasts versus the alternatives available (Hello Leo) that I am O.K. with him.

  30. Sperk says:

    Brian – You make some great points and I agree that, when they started out, Chuck and Jack were a GREAT team. I also agree that Jack has devolved at that is likely because the team likes him trying to be fun and thinks the fans aren’t sophisticated enough to want actual basketball talk.

    I actually prefer Leo over Jack by leaps and bounds…however, when Leo was in his “I’m the coach of the National Team” era he was terrible. He was the king of if the shot didn’t go in it was a terrible decision and if the exact same play resulted in a score then that was an excellent basketball play. I think now that foibles in the coaching world are behind him he has improved (as opposed to Jack who is getting worse).

    To each their own…and there is no denying that Jack is popular and that you don’t hear the same about Leo.

    The fact we are able to engage in this is an awesome testament to this site for providing a forum to discuss the Raps

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