Raptors News

Pre-game news & notes: 3 potential 1st-round scenarios in play

The Toronto Raptors have taken care of most of what they could control this season. They’ve won more games than ever before, locked up the top seed in the Eastern Conference, and ensured they’ll have home-court advantage in any series save for an NBA Finals meeting with the Houston Rockets. And still, there are no easy paths even with what they’ve accomplished. The Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, or Washington Wizards will stand in their way in round one, each of them a reasonable challenge.

Who the Raptors will draw won’t be known until all of the teams involved are finished play on Wednesday, and there are still eight possible breakdowns of the games and three different potential opponents. An attempt to sort through the mess follows.

So those are the scenarios, but what are the odds of each? We can look at this a few ways. The first is to just trust Jacob Goldstein’s model, which shows:

  • Washington 60%
  • Miami 35%
  • Milwaukee 5%

Alternatively, we could look at the betting odds for each game and use the implied probabilities within. The odds for each game are as follows:

  • Washington -250, implied probability 71.4%
  • Miami -190, implied probability 65.5%
  • Milwaukee +245, implied probability 29%

Using those probabilities for each individual game, we get the following probabilities for outcomes:

  • Washington 42.2%
  • Miami 24.6%
  • Milwaukee 33.2%

All of that is to say: A lot could still happen, and if you’re of the mind that Miami is the best matchup for Toronto, they can do themselves a favor with a win here. There’s also that whole 60-game marker the team probably wouldn’t mind hitting.

The game tips off at 8 on TSN and TSN 1050. You can check out the full game preview here.

Raptors updates
It’s a #FullSquad occasion for the Raptors here, which has been rare. Fred VanVleet is available after missing time with a sore back, Lucas Nogueira is available after sitting with a hamstring issue, and all of the Raptors 905 taxi squad should be with the team after closing their season last night (and even if they all aren’t – it was unclear immediately after the game last night – the Raptors are at least healthy). Dwane Casey has maintained that the team will treat this like a tune-up game, and while that probably doesn’t extend as far as playing guys 40 minutes, it will probably look something like a dress rehearsal for three quarters or so. As a refresher, here’s how the Raptors have done managing minutes so far this year:

This game won’t be incredibly predictive in the event the Raptors draw Miami, as the Heat are down a key player. Still, the Heat are one of the teams the starters have struggled against this year, so it would probably be a helpful confidence boost to run Hassan Whiteside off the floor.

PG: Kyle Lowry, Delon Wright, Fred VanVleet, Lorenzo Brown
SG: DeMar DeRozan, Norman Powell, Malachi Richardson
SF: OG Anunoby, C.J. Miles, Malcolm Miller
PF: Serge Ibaka, Pascal Siakam, Alfonzo McKinnie
C: Jonas Valanciunas, Jakob Poeltl, Lucas Nogueira
OUT: None
TBD: None
905: None

Heat updates
It initially looked like Miami may have everyone available here except Dion Waiters, who remains out for the season, but news came down at shootaround that Goran Dragic was doubtful with some knee soreness. He’s sitting this one out, clearly afraid of Lorenzo Brown. Even with a win potentially determining their playoff opponent, it makes sense for the Heat to be cautious with someone as important to their success as Dragic – the team only outscores opponents by 0.1 points per-100 possessions with their All-Star on the floor, but that pretty dramatically undersells how integral he is to their offense. He’s also pretty consistently given the Raptors trouble, and the switch to some combination of Tyler Johnson, Derrick Walton, and Dwyane Wade, while helpful for winning the game, isn’t going to be particularly instructive if the Raptors end up drawing Miami as a first-round opponent.

Everyone else appears to be a go for the Heat, so it’s just a matter of waiting on a starting lineup. Johnson, Josh Richardson, James Johnson, and Hassan Whiteside started five of the last six games alongside Dragic, with Rodney McGruder and Luke Babbitt drawing in to start the last time Dragic missed a game. Erik Spoelstra’s rotations have kind of been all over the place all year – the Heat have only used three lineups for 100 or more minutes this year and only one (barely) cracked the 200-minute mark (the Raptors have five and three, respectively, for comparison) – so it’s tough to figure how he may deploy his charges with Dragic out.

UPDATE: McGruder starts or Dragic.

PG: Tyler Johnson, Derrick Walton Jr.
SG: Rodney McGruder, Dwyane Wade
SF: Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow, Wayne Ellington, Derrick Jones Jr.
PF: James Johnson, Kelly Olynyk, Luke Babbitt, Jordan Mickey
C: Hassan Whiteside, Bam Adebayo, Udonis Haslem
OUT: Dion Waiters, Goran Dragic
TBD: None
Sioux Falls: None


  • Raptors 905 wrapped up one heck of a season last night, so all of the regular assignees will be with the Raptors the rest of the way.
  • For The Athletic, I wrote about how the Raptors 905 season was a resounding success even two games short of a championship repeat.
  • The Raptors will play Game 1 of their first-round series at home on either Saturday or Sunday. The league denies that whatever leaks are on StubHub are accurate, though it’s certainly possible that what’s out there ends up accurate. Looking ahead, the Leafs will play a home game either Monday, so the Raptors could go Sat-Tues, Sun-Tues, or Sun-Wed.
  • This is a really great Vince Carter piece from John Chick of theScore.

The line
The Raptors are 4.5-point underdogs after opening at +0.5, so something happened to swing that line, whether it’s an assumption the Raptors won’t give it their all for 48 minutes or that the Heat will be in high-gear or whatever it might be. The over-under is set at 202.

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