Hottest Team In Eastern Conference...Your Toronto Raptors

The Toronto Raptors enter the Christmas break as the hottest team in the Eastern Conference. Doing it without Andrea Bargnani and without Kyle Lowry. It really is the storyline of some cheesy Christmas movie almost. The Raptors have been getting it done with great production from their bench as well. Things have been going so well that Landry Fields who by all indications is medically cleared to play did not see the floor last night as it was Mickael Pietrus and Alan Anderson getting the job done at small forward.

When you combine what Bargnani, Lowry and Fields are being paid roughly that is over 20 million of your cap space doing nothing as part of this 5-game winning streak. Terrence Ross pictured above has been getting his minutes as well. Some coach Casey made a point to emphasis post game that he is earning. The Raptors are at least at this point not concerned with development as much as they are production.

The development of Jonas Valanciunas will be sidelined for quite some time as he broke a bone in his right ring finger and likely will be out for some time. Something has changed for this group and maybe it actually is because of Andrea Bargnani.

Bargnani and pretty much everyone in the organization says his comments about the Raptors being the worst team in the league and other comments about the team not communicating and playing well together were mis-quoted and lost in translation. It would seem that argument falls someone flat when you look at it closer.

Their were rumblings that in the team meeting the Raptors had during their road trip that saw them go 0-5 things were said about Bargnani and Kyle Lowry playing selfish basketball. They are gone and we see a Raptors team playing a great example of team basketball on both ends of the floor.

It seems all to simple of explanation but it really does feel like the right answer. Jose Calderon has like in the past when his rival for playing time has been out that is cue for him to step up and he has. Nothing new in this he has been doing this since T.J Ford was a Toronto Raptor.

Basically the Raptors have done the opposite of what they were doing earlier in the season. Finding ways to close out games and being able to execute plays down the stretch. Last night the Raptors let a 10 point advantage get reduced to one. Earlier in the season this team would have folded and lost. But they didn't last night and found a way to walk away with the win 93-90 over the surprising over achieving Magic.

It was far from perfect as the Raptors go crushed on the boards 45-32. There rotations on defense looked slow and sloppy at times. But maybe it goes to something that John Lucas III said to me which you'll hear on This Week In Raptorland. He talked about this team being able to get the key stops to win games. They did that on this night to enter their Christmas Break as the hottest team in the Eastern Conference winners of 5 straight.

It will be no easy task when the Raptors return from the 5 day break as they travel to San Antonio to face the Spurs. Maybe Pop will give his team an extended vacation from Christmas and rest his starters? In any case it will be no easy task. The Raptors battled the Spurs hard losing to them in double overtime at the ACC. That was the game that real saw the start of the emergence of Ed Davis.

Thanks to Jevon Minott of our Team DNB Staff for the photos. he snapped a ton even a few of me while at the game last night if you want to go check them out. In terms of the blog will have an Episode of this Week in Raptorland for you enjoyment and than we will enjoy the Christmas Break. Featured on the show will be Alan Anderson, John Lucas III and Amir Johnson joining myself and Josh Lewenberg. Don't forget your questions via Twitter with hashtag #TWIR5 and you Alan Anderson nicknames with hashtag #TWIRAA as will be giving away some chicken wings for both of those.

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