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NBA Standings Watch: Down the Stretch for Toronto

Where do the Raptors sit with the season winding down? A weekly investigation begins.

NBA: Toronto Raptors at New Orleans Pelicans Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

As we head down the stretch run for the Raptors, with only 18 games left for them to play, the situation in the standings must come under review. As it, ahem, stands, here’s where Toronto finds itself:

Assuming you can read that chart (anyone know a good way to embed a dang table?), the Raps are 38-26, good for fourth place, with a firm three games up on the Atlanta Hawks. The target of course is to get the hell out of fourth so as to avoid a potential second round matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers. (Yes, yes, I know this is counting your chickens before they hatch to the absolute extreme, but this team deserves a return to the ECF, and gotdamn, that’s the best way to get there.) Their possible first round opponents, a real murderer’s row of memories: Atlanta, Indiana, Detroit, Chicago.

Matters are complicated of course, by the absence of Kyle Lowry, the team’s best player. In his stead, the Raptors have managed to keep things going with a 5-2 record and some quality wins. They currently sit 1.5 games back of the Washington Wizards, and 2.5 games back of the Boston Celtics. Can they catch up? Who will they ultimately play in the first round of the post-season? And how relieved will you be when Lowry retakes the court?

What do you think?