With two games to go, the schedule is tightening up, and the Raptors have some wiggle room to move into the top-5 in terms of lottery balls. As it stands, this is what we’re looking at for the remaining games of the bottom feeders in the league:

Charlotte (7-56), Washington (17-46) and New Orleans (20-44)
Have the top three locked up, no chance anyone catches them. If Washington wins their remaining three games, and New Orleans loses their remaining two, they could potentially switch spots.
Effect on Raptors Draft Position: niente

Sacramento (21-43)
Have a game on the Raptors, but play the Thunder then Lakers this week. The Thunder are playing for home-court in the West, and the Lakers are playing for home-court in the 1st two-rounds.
Effect on Raptors Draft Position: should maintain 4th

Cleveland (21-42)
Play Memphis, Washington and Chicago this week. The Grizzlies are trying to secure home-court for their first round against the Clippers, so they will be playing for a win; even against the Wizards; and the Bulls could just rest everyone on the last game of the season, but since it’s a homegame, they might play hard in the 1st half and try to put it away early to maintain some momentum heading into the playoffs.
Effect on Raptors Draft Position: probably finish 5th

Toronto (22-42)
Milwaukee tonight, the Nets (below) on Thursday. They sit a game ahead of the Nets for 6th. Milwaukee needs to win every game and hope the Knicks lose to sneak into the playoffs; I expect them to playing for wins because a) Scott Skiles is an animal and wont lie down b) winning their last three games wont affect their draft position considering Portland is fully in tank mode with Aldridge shut down for the season. If DeRozan gets sat like he did last night, both these games could be less watchable than last nights Pistons one and result in losses.
Effect on Raptors Draft Position: high risk to finish 7th

New Jersey (22-42)
Sixers tonight and the Raptors on Thursday. With Philly one game out of 8th, you expect them to come out guns-blazing tonight for the win; I’m putting that down as a loss for the Nets.
Effect on Raptors Draft Position: mild risk to finish 6th

Golden State (23-41)
New Orleans tonight, San Antonio on Thursday. Even if they lose both games, they will need both the Nets and Raptors to win at least one of their remaining games, and have the tie-breaker go in their favour. Seeing as they beat the hapless Timberwolves last night, and all the stupid moves they’ve made this season, I wouldn’t put it past them to jump all over the Spurs who will be resting everyone.
Effect on Raptors Draft Position: should finish 8th

So to recap:

  • the Raptors can’t move any higher than 6th unless the Cavs win their remaining three and the Raptors lose both of theirs
  • To guarantee a 6th place finish, they will need to lose both remaining games
  • If they win 1 of their remaining 2 games, the Nets will also have to win at least 1 of their remaining 2 for the Raptors to maintain 6th.

Just to rub salt on an open wound, if the Raptors lost those two games against the Celtics and Hawks, they would sitting nice in 4th right now; the two single most expensive wins in franchise history.

Since we’re talking about lottery odds and not actually landing the 5th, 6th or 7th selection, the luck of the draw will play a huge part. You can almost hear Colangelo and Casey screaming at each other over the playing time strategy of those who haven’t already been shut down for the season.

The Bucks are 8 point favourites for tonight, and considering it’s on the second night of a back-to-back, the odds are in our favour; for once.

Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images

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