The Toronto Raptors are enjoying a rare two-day respite from active games before embarking on a 13-day swim of a schedule that features contests against lesser opponents like Brooklyn, Milwaukee, Boston, the Lakers, Charlotte, the 76ers, and technically the below-.500 Minnesota Timberwolves. There is a very real chance that the Raptors, who have won 11 of their last 16 to improve their record to 17-17, could come out of that run winning seven of eight games, with a home matchup with the 20-16 Dallas Mavericks serving as the squad’s toughest pairing. This is an interesting turn for a team that just about committed to tanking the season last summer under new general manager Masai Ujuri, a franchise that further committed to try to shed salary and accrue lottery balls when it traded leading scorer Rudy Gay for a litany of reserves, a group that save for one player in Chuck Hayes most assuredly won’t be around next season. Once fearful that the team would make the playoffs because of the arcane and pointless NBA rule that affords a guaranteed playoff berth to a division winner, the Raptors now seem to be certain to secure a spot outright by virtue of their record. If the team truly does play somewhere in the middle of the current 11-5 run, as it has since the Rudy Gay deal, and the 17-7 overall record, then the squad will have no problem working out a win total in the high 40s. That number might even net the Raptors the third overall seed in the East, should Al Horford’s continued absence mar the Atlanta Hawks’ season. Pretty interesting stuff for a team that was designed to lose. The squad’s front office, though, seems somewhat chuffed and confident about the turnaround. From Cathal Kelly at the Toronto Star: However, if the team stumbles through this three-week period, then a lot of hard decisions have to be made about personnel. That failure would put the franchise back on a trade footing.