The Toronto Raptors will play the Washington Wizards in the first round of the 2018 NBA playoffs.
With a loss to the Orlando Magic on Wednesday, the Wizards locked themselves into the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. The Raptors, meanwhile, locked up the top seed in the conference a week ago. There was a chance entering play Wednesday that the Raptors would draw the Milwaukee Bucks or Miami Heat, but the Bucks were pasted and Raptors-Heat was rendered moot in overtime by the Wizards loss.
The Raptors went 2-2 against the Wizards this year in a sample of games that will be helpful to learn from but may not be exceptionally predictive, as the Wizards were without John Wall for all four of those meetings. Norman Powell, OG Anunoby, and Fred VanVleet all missed one of the games, as well, though those absences aren’t quite at the level of Wall’s. Wall, by the way, is back from his knee injury and isn’t expected to need time off during the playoffs. He played Tuesday and sat Wednesday on the second night of a back-to-back. Otto Porter also missed Wednesday’s game for Washington.
Elsewhere, Philadelphia beat Milwaukee to lock up the third seed, meaning that if the Raptors make the second round, they’ll play the winner of Cleveland-Indiana. LeBron James and the Cavaliers in the second round once again. It’s proving season a couple weeks earlier than they maybe would have hoped by earning the one-seed, and a Wizards-Cavaliers-76ers (or TBD) road to the finals is more arduous than initially expected.
The NBA will likely release first-round playoff schedules shortly. With the Air Canada Centre availability around the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Raptors could conceivably play Games 1 and 2 Saturday-Tuesday, Sunday-Tuesday, or Sunday-Wednesday before hitting the road. We’ll begin rolling out preview content on Thursday but the bulk of it will come Friday so we have a day to prepare.