Improved D has Raptors eying playoffs

It says almost all you need to know about the Toronto Raptors that "O" appears four times in their name while "D" doesn't make a single appearance. For the first five weeks of the season, the Raps embodied that theme to a historic extent. I wrote about their impotent defense in mid-November, and it worsened in the following days.

Yet teams can and will change trajectories during the course of the season, and the Raptors' shifting defensive fortunes have enabled them to make a charge in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Yes, I'm using the Eastern Conference playoff hopeful definition of "charge" here, as in "briefly compiling more wins than losses and thus gaining several games on the competition." Regardless, the Raps have looked much better lately.