Playoff Positioning Update: Raptors Fate Rests with Atlanta and Chicago

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If you wanted to face the Bucks in the playoffs, I got some bad news. The Raptors loss in Boston means that they no longer control their own destiny when it comes to facing the Bucks.

The Raptors are now a game behind the Bulls for the third seed (standings), and only a Raptors win combined with a Chicago loss to Atlanta on Wednesday will see the Raptors face the Bucks.  The Raptors hold the tie-breaker over the Bulls on account of winning the division.  The Bulls are in Atlanta, who have lost two straight against the Wizards and Knicks, in games where they played rather half-heartedly.

The Raptors are at home to Charlotte, who are out of the playoff picture and have Al Jefferson, Lance Stephenson, Cody Zeller, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist all unavailable. It’s difficult to see the Hornets posing any kind of threat to the Raptors, so it’ll come down to whether Atlanta is able to wake up from their slumber and take care of the Bulls.  The twist is that Atlanta faces the winner of the 4-5 matchup, and they’d much rather avoid Chicago in the second round and take their pick of Washington or Toronto.  So, my money’s on Atlanta to tank that last game.

The Bulls have won three straight against Miami, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn, and are entering the playoffs as a team in form, and buoyed by the strong return of Derrick Rose.

The Raptors record against Washington this season is 3-0, while they’ve gone 2-1 against Milwaukee.

MIL WAS
W 124-82 W 103-84
@ W 92-89 @ W 120-116 OT
L 82-75 W 95-93

 

The players are giving the right lip-service to who they’d rather face.  Kyle Lowry:

“I don’t think it matters to us at all. You don’t want to affect the seeding. You just want to go out there and play. Whatever happens, happens. It’s meant to be.”

Amir Johnson:

“It doesn’t matter. We played a great season, we’re in the playoffs and I feel like no matter where we are in the first round we’re going to do well.”

So, to recap: if you want the Raptors to face the Wizards, cheer for the Bulls. If not, cheer for the Hawks.

 

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