After capturing their historic 48th win on Monday, the Toronto Raptors are now looking to add to their best-ever season’s win total and lock up third in the Eastern Conference by exacting some revenge on the New York Knicks on the final day of the NBA regular season.
The last time these two clubs met, New York pulled out a surprising victory that momentarily bumped the Raptors down to fourth in the East. Now, with no other games remaining, they could spoil the Raptors’ plans for the third seed permanently—although that seems unlikely given the sorry state of the Knicks right now.
Programming alert: Watch the Toronto Raptors take on the New York Knicks with coverage beginning at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT on all Sportsnet regional channels.
Carmelo Anthony will not play on Wednesday owing to a torn labrum in his right shoulder and Amar’e Stoudemire is questionable, effectively erasing much of the chances of a Knicks win.
Another factor working in the Raptors’ favour is the fact that the outcome of Wednesday’s game is of little consequence to the Knicks, who are now firmly looking ahead to the off-season, where they will need to figure out what to do with Anthony, who can opt out of his deal this summer, as well as Stoudemire, who has expressed interest in playing in Israel when his contract expires in 2015.
Further helping Toronto’s chances is confirmation from Raptors coach Dwane Casey that he will be playing his regular rotation on Wednesday, not wanting to take a chance on the third seed and possibly to get DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry and Amir Johnson back in a rhythm as DeRozan was given a game off on Monday and Lowry and Johnson are still working their way back from injury.
— Eric Smith (@Eric__Smith) April 16, 2014
Final day shakedown
The last day of the regular season is going to be a nutty one.
All 30 teams in the league are in action and playoff positioning as we know it could change drastically.
Of note to Raptors fans, the Chicago Bulls will be in Charlotte to take on the Bobcats, while the Wizards will finish their season in Boston against the Celtics.
A Bobcats victory would guarantee Toronto the third seed, while a Bulls win would force the Raptors to beat the Knicks to clinch it. A Chicago win would also lock up sixth place for Washington (the seed Toronto would play if it finishes third), meaning the only way Charlotte can move up is if they win and the Wizards lose.
Toronto Raptors Square
If you can’t make it down to the Air Canada Centre for a playoff game because you just couldn’t find tickets or they’re a little outside your price range, the Raptors have a solution for you.
As was the case with the Leafs last year, Maple Leaf Square will be open for both home and away Raptors playoff games a couple hours before tip-off for fans to come down to party and watch the game on the huge screen outside of the ACC.
The playoffs begin on April 19, with the official schedule still dependent on Wednesday night’s results.