Someone check a calendar, it’s still March isn’t it? The Toronto Raptors don’t play again until Wednesday in Boston, but they may have already clinched a playoff spot if any one of Indiana, Detroit or Chicago loses on Monday night according to the NBA and Elias Sports Bureau.
The matchups that matter to Toronto on Monday night are:
76ers (9-61) at Pacers (36-33)
Bucks (30-40) at Pistons (36-34)
Kings (27-42) at Bulls (35-33)
Those should all be wins for the home teams, but each of them are 5-5 over their past 10 games, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise if one of them has an even worse than lately off night.
In reality, any scoreboard watching should be of the Nuggets at Cleveland to face the Eastern Conference leading Cavaliers (49-20). The Raptors (48-21) are only one game back of the Cavs and can almost taste first place for the first time in franchise history this late in the season.
“We are in this to compete,” head coach Dwane Casey said after the win over the Magic.
But when asked if being one game out of first place was front and center Casey responded,
“It is, but still, I’d rather have health than anything else and freshness. That’s so important. Nobody wants to win more than me … but it’s a double-edged sword. I understand that it’s important to this organization, this city to fight for a championship. To even talk about playing for a championship is important. It’s never been done here before, so I think it’s important to say hey, we’re fighting for a championship and playing for that pride.”
The Toronto Raptors are only one win shy of tying the franchise record for wins in a season that was set just last year at 49 and they still have 13 games remaining. They are a team that is now on pace for a 57 win season having never cracked the 50 win barrier.
A playoff spot in March? First place in the East a possibility? No one saw that coming – maybe it’s time to suggest this team is actually pretty good?
If Toronto can keep pace until April, they have a shot, in part because they own the tie-breaker having taken the regular season series with the Cavs 2-1. In the last two weeks the Cavaliers face a list of teams fighting for playoff position and possibly a playoff spot right thru to the end of the season in Atlanta twice, Charlotte, Indiana, Chicago and Detroit.