With thanks in large part to the huge performances from Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam on Sunday, the Toronto Raptors were able to come away with a victory over the Los Angeles Lakers and keep their slim play-in tournament hopes alive.
Toronto now sits 2.5 games back of the Washington Wizards for 10th place in the Eastern Conference and seven games left to play that isn’t a ton of runway to make a move, but it’s still possible, particularly because Toronto and Washington are scheduled to play each other later this week.
And for all the attention being given to Toronto and Washington, the Chicago Bulls are also still within possible striking distance at three games back of the Wizards, too.
So, needless to say, this is a critical week for the fate of that highly sought after No. 10 seed in the East.
Here’s a quick glance at each team’s situation heading into this big week.
Current record: 27-38
Games remaining: 7
Schedule this week: at LAC, vs. WAS, vs. MEM
What was looking like a disastrous Western Conference road trip for the Raptors has somewhat turned around for them because of that big win Sunday over the Lakers, and now they’ll get a chance to finish off their trip against a Los Angeles Clippers squad Tuesday that’s in a spat of trouble themselves right now, having lost three straight.
A win against the Clippers would be massive for the Raptors as it would set up their Thursday clash with the Wizards in the best position possible at the time. Obviously a victory over Washington would mean making up one whole game on them, so the more work the Raptors can do to cut into the Wizards’ lead before facing them the better.
Current record: 26-38
Games remaining: 8
Schedule this week: vs. PHI, at CHA, vs. BOS, at DET
The Bulls are at a serious disadvantage as they won’t see the Wizards for the rest of their season and will entirely have to rely on Washington faltering while they manage to get on a hot streak to end the season if they’re going to make the play-in tournament.
This is a nightmare scenario for Chicago as they haven’t proven be good enough to go on a streak of any kind since they made the big trade deadline move for Nikola Vucevic, nor is believing the Wizards – winners of 12 of their last 15 games – will suddenly fall off a cliff.
It’s still technically possible for the Bulls, but their odds look slimmer than even the Raptors’ at the moment.
Current record: 29-35
Games remaining: 8
Schedule this week: vs. IND, at MIL, at TOR, at IND
The Wizards can theoretically wrap-up a play-in spot for themselves this week and look poised to do so with a number of big games that could work to their advantage in the standings.
There’s obviously the Raptors game on Thursday where, as much as it could be a blessing for Toronto to cut into their lead, from Washington’s perspective that game could be the final nail in the coffin it needs to put the Raptors to rest for good.
Additionally, the Wizards play a pair of games against the Indiana Pacers this week – on Monday and Saturday. These are two important games for them because they’re currently only 1.5 games back of Indiana for the No. 9 seed in the East.
A couple of wins against the Pacers this week would likely mean Washington takes No. 9 all for themselves and gives themselves the cushion they need to secure their play-in spot.