The Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers have been linked in the news lately after the Sixers hired ex-Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo as team president. The hiring has brought up all kinds of discussion about the job Colangelo did here in Toronto as General Manager from 2006-13, a period in which he won Executive of the Year in 2007.
In the meantime, the Raptors and Sixers have a basketball game to play. Well, kind of.
With a Cleveland Cavaliers win over the Atlanta Hawks last night, the Cavs have now clinched the Eastern Conference's top seed for the postseason, while the Raptors are firmly planted in second place. Considering that the Sixers already have the NBA's worst record and best draft lottery odds locked up, this is the definition of a game in which neither team has anything left to play for.
That said, it's the last home game in what has arguably been the best regular season in Raptors franchise history, so let's not gloss over it entirely.
Things to Watch For:
The Raptors will finish second in the Eastern Conference no matter what happens over these last two games (tonight against the Sixers and tomorrow night against the Brooklyn Nets), so it would not be surprising to see coach Dwane Casey sit some (if not most) of his regulars in this one.
It's the last home game of the season, so perhaps Casey will opt instead to rest his guys in the second game of the back-to-back set on Wednesday on the road in Brooklyn, but honestly, he could even rest the team's biggest minute absorbers in both games and it wouldn't really matter.
It goes without saying, but the watchability of this game will depend highly on who is deemed available to play in it.
2. DeMarre Carroll's continued re-acclimation
DeMarre Carroll has now played two games since his return from knee surgery, averaging 5.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 2.5 steals, and 0.5 blocks in 15.6 minutes per contest, while shooting 37.5% from the floor and a perfect 2-for-2 from long range.
Those numbers obviously don't jive with what the Raptors were expecting out of their big offseason acquisition, but Carroll has looked mostly effective in limited minutes since his return from a 42-game absence, and this period is more about getting him in game shape for the playoffs than anything else.
He probably won't play 30-plus minutes anytime soon, but how he continues to work his way back up will be an interesting story to follow as we head into the first round of the playoffs this weekend.
3. Bruno watch
If the main guys sit out or if this game ends up being a blowout, it might become an excellent opportunity for fans to see the team's deeper rotation players in action.
In other words, this game has "20-point Bruno Caboclo performance" written all over it.
The Raptors have been in a race for the top seed in the Eastern Conference all season long -- including a lot of closely contested matches -- so there haven't been many opportunities to get guys like Bruno into games. To wit, he's only played eight minutes in his entire sophomore season without scoring a single point.
The young guys have done some great stuff playing for the team's D-League affiliate and one of these final two games could give players like Bruno or Delon Wright a chance to strut their stuff on the big-league level.
Keep an ear out for the "Bruno!" chants if this one gets out of hand early.
Where to Watch: TSNN, 7:30 PM EST