The result of a Toronto Raptors game feels like it matters with some degree of certainty again! If the Raptors can come away victorious against the New York Knicks, they’ll lock up the third seed in the Eastern Conference. Lose, and they’ll still have another chance to lock it up, but winning here could give them the freedom to rest players in their finale on Wednesday, if they so choose and if the Cleveland Cavaliers take care of their own business in locking up the one-seed.
Here’s a look at today’s seeding scenarios:
- 1: The Cavaliers visit the Hawks and can pull back ahead of Boston by a full game with a win. Lose, and Cleveland will have to match Boston’s record over the final two games. The Cavs seem to value the one seed, which makes more sense the more vulnerable they believe themselves to be. (Inpredictable gives Cleveland an 85-percent chance at the one-seed, but FiveThirtyEight is less optimistic at 63 percent.)
- 2: Boston isn’t quite assured of a top-two seed yet, but they would have to lose out while the Raptors win out to fall to third. They’re off today. (Along with 538’s 37-percent chance of Boston jumping to one, Inpredictable shows just a six-percent chance of them falling to three.)
- 3-4: Again, the Raptors can lock up the third seed with a win today or Wednesday, or any Washington loss. The Wizards have clinched a top-four seed but would have to win out while Toronto loses out to budge from there. (Inpredictbale gives the Raptors a 72-percent chance at finishing third.)
- 5-6: The Hawks host the Cavs while the Bucks are off. Atlanta has a half-game lead but would obviously lose it with a loss to Cleveland. There remains a chance Indiana jumps into the mix here, but all of the most likely scenarios have the Raptors drawing the Hawks (good) or Bucks (bad). (Inpredictable gives Milwaukee a 53-percent chance of finishing sixth, Atlanta a 70-percent chance of finishing fifth, and Indiana just a 21-percent chance of jumping into one of those spot).
- 7-9: The Pacers have insulated themselves a bit here with a one-game cushion thanks to Toronto beating Miami on Friday and Chicago inexplicably losing to Brooklyn on Saturday. That’s big for Indiana, because they’re the odd team out in a three-way tie. Today, all three of these teams are off. (The Pacers have an 84-percent chance of getting in, Chicago a 97-percent chance, and Miami, sadly, just a 22-percent chance.)
- Other relevant games: The Raptors have a draft pick to watch out for, too, and it will almost certainly fall in the 22-24 range. The Raptors get the more favorable of their pick and the Clippers’, and both teams are likely to finish in the 22-25 range. Really, just root for the Clippers to do the worst of a tight Clippers-Jazz-Raptors-Wizards group and Toronto will pick 22nd.
The game tips off at 12 on TSN 4/5 and TSN 1050. You can check out the preview here.
The Raptors have a full-squad outside of the assignees for just the fourth time all season. Considering it’s only been two games for Kyle Lowry and the new additions, the Raptors probably figure to continue playing something close to a dress rehearsal rotation to breed familiarity. The new starters have played just 27 minutes together at a minus-27.2 net rating, for example. Other lineups worth looking at more closely include the new “Lowry and bench unit,” long successful with four subs but that’s primarily included Jonas Valanciunas the last two games. That group is a plus-15.7 in 16 minutes together. No other lineup has played more than five minutes together over the last two games. So, yeah, they still need some time, even if the team has looked terrific at both ends in the fourth quarter of games.
PG: Kyle Lowry, Cory Joseph, Delon Wright, Fred VanVleet
SG: DeMar DeRozan, Norman Powell
SF: DeMarre Carroll, P.J. Tucker
PF: Serge Ibaka, Patrick Patterson
C: Jonas Valanciunas, Jakob Poeltl, Lucas Nogueira
ASSIGNED: Bruno Caboclo, Pascal Siakam
Who the heck knows what the Knicks might do game to game at this point. We know Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose are done for the season, and that Kristaps Porzingis is unlikely to play here (due to back spasms but probably really due to spasms of being too good). Porzingis, by the way, is questionable here but was talking Saturday as if his season is over. Lance Thomas is also dealing with a hip injury without a timeline for a return, and Carmelo Anthony sat Friday with a knee/tanking thing. There were also rumblings the Knicks would make a D-League addition for the final two games of the season, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.
Knicks dying for lottery balls to get them into position to draft Markelle Fultz. He'll be courtside at Garden today to see Phil's triangle.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) April 9, 2017
So, yeah, check back before tip-off to see what the Knicks are rolling with here. UPDATE: Porzingis, Anthony, Thomas, Noah, and Rose are all out.
PG: Ron Baker, Chasson Randle
SG: Courtney Lee, Sasha Vujacic
SF: Justin Holiday
PF: Maurice Ndour, Mindaugus Kuzminskas
C: Willy Hernangomez, Kyle O’Quinn, Marshall Plumlee
OUT: Kristaps Porzingis, Carmelo Anthony, Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose, Lance Thomas
- Bruno Caboclo and Pascal Siakam remain with Raptors 905, who swept their first-round playoff series against the Canton Charge last night. The 905 don’t have an idea of when they’ll play next – it’s likely to be on the road Wednesday or Friday – so whether or not the assignees will join the parent club for practice on Tuesday or stay with the D-Leaguers remains to be seen. Fred VanVleet could draw a second-round assignment, too, though that’s unconfirmed as of yet and may depend on whether the Raptors want to rest players in their season finale.
- Raptors Republic readers can also get discounted 905 playoff tickets by using the promo code REPUBLIC905.
The line is still off the board as of 10 a.m. That’s pretty rare, but it speaks to the uncertainty around potential rest here on both sides. Check back to see if the line goes on the board. UPDATE: The Knicks resting everyone resulted in a line. The Raptors are 7.5-point favorites with a 201.5 over-under.