How the Toronto Raptors can clinch a playoff spot today

Toronto Raptors' Kyle Lowry (7) drives pass New York Knicks' Langston Galloway (2) during first half NBA basketball action in Toronto on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016. (Frank Gunn/CP)

Last season’s woeful playoff collapse taught Toronto Raptors fans they can only invest so much in regular season success. But don’t let that get in the way of enjoying the Raptors performance of late, especially given there are some big milestones awaiting this week (and besides, given the pain twenty years of Raptors basketball has provided, it’s perfectly understandable to celebrate a team that’s been firmly in the top 5-ish in the NBA this season).

First, the Raptors are two wins away from the big 5-0, a 50-win mark that doesn’t just look good on paper but would also establish a new franchise record. With three games on tap this week, all on the road, vs. the Celtics, Rockets, and Pelicans, it won’t be easy but seems likely they’ll reach 50 in the immediate future.

Second, is clinching a playoff spot. Sure, it’s been an inevitability for quite some time now, but an early playoff clinch is always a nice feather in the cap of the NBA’s elite (or in the Raps case, near-elite). And chances are you won’t have to wait as long for this one to come to fruition— as in, less than a day.

According to the NBA and Elias Sports Bureau, the Raptors will clinch a playoff spot if just one of Chicago, Detroit, or Indiana loses tonight. So will it happen? Let’s take a closer look.

Detroit vs. Milwaukee:
The Bucks have some good players and a bona fide emerging star in Giannis Antetokounmpo. But they’re 1-2 against the Pistons this season, and Detroit has beaten up on lesser opponents in their last two games. The Pistons are likely to win this one.

Chicago vs. Sacramento

The Bulls have been on a rollercoaster ride all season, but are a comfy 23-12 at home, where they’ll host the Kings tonight. It’s hard to ever bank on Sacramento doing right, so Chicago has the edge here, too.

Indiana vs. Philadelphia
Uh oh. The Sixers haven’t won consecutive games all season. Which doesn’t really apply here anyways, given they’ve lost five straight heading into tonight’s road game. Needless to say, this should be a lock for the Pacers.

So the Raptors can clinch a playoff spot tonight. But the odds aren’t in their favour.

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