As a follow up to Alex’s piece earlier about potential first-round playoff opponents, I thought I should put it to the Republic to see who the preferred opponent is.
To set this up, a quick look at the standings shows Milwaukee as the most likely opponent. They’re 1.5 games back of Miami, who are 1.5 games back of Washington. For the Wizards, Pacers, or 76ers to slide at this point would be pretty unlikely. ESPN’s BPI actually currently pegs the Bucks to finish three games back of the 7-seed, and Basketball Reference projects them to finish 2.5 back. Between the current standings and their remaining schedules, Jacob Goldstein gives the Bucks an 81.8-percent chance of finishing eighth. The Raptors, by the way, are a near-lock to finish first.
So it’s probably going to be Milwaukee in round one. Weirder things have happened, though, and Philly through Detroit all still have a one-percent chance or greater at being Toronto’s first-round opponent. (We’re leaving Detroit out because they’d get 100 percent of the vote.)
Who do you want to see?
Building from that, I’m curious if people would prefer the Cavaliers in the three-seed, putting off a potential meeting as long as possible, or in the four/five-seed, where the Raptors would potentially catch them before they’ve really had time to figure themselves out. I’m pretty confident I know the answer.
A rematch with the Bucks in round one and an eventual rematch with the Cavs if both teams get there…it’s certainly going to be an opportunity for the Raptors to show their growth from last season.