We can thank LeBron James for making the Raptors’ lives difficult once again. Thanks to back-to-back losses to the Hawks — each of which featuring an insane turn of events leading to an Atlanta victory — Toronto is almost certainly going to meet the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round. This of course assumes they get that far.
The Raptors’ first round opponent is still — still! — undecided. The standings as of today, the penultimate day of the regular season, has a couple of teams still vying for the honour of spending some time in Toronto. Have a look.
Thanks to the tie breaker over the Wizards (and Washington’s modest swoon down the stretch), the Raptors are locked into third place. They have one final game against Cleveland which presumably the Cavs want to win more than the Raptors. A Cleveland win (and Boston loss) would draw the 1- and 2-seeds even again, and award the top seed to LeBron — a glorious boon for Toronto.
But there I go again writing about the second round. Our eternal nemesis (though he doesn’t know it), Matt Moore of CBS Sports has helpfully laid out all of the different scenarios and permutations for the final two days of the regular season. The main takeaway within is this: the Raptors still don’t quite know if they’ll be playing the Hawks, Bucks or Pacers. As Moore outlines, there are scenarios that see all three teams in the 6-seed. This is ridiculous.
That said, if you were betting: it is looking more and more likely that the Bucks will stay where they’re at and play Toronto in the first round. That’s my guess. The other scenarios require a lot of things to break right (or wrong) for, say, a climb out of seventh by the Pacers, or some tumble by the Hawks.
In other words: start mentally preparing for Giannis.