The Toronto Raptors are going to make the playoffs.
While not a bold statement now, with the Raptors sitting in fourth in the East and two and a half games up on Brooklyn, who themselves sit in a playoff spot, it would have been before the season began.
What’s more, not only are the Raptors going to make the playoffs, they stand a good chance of winning their division and finishing third in the conference.
Over the first 41 games the teams the Raptors faced had a combined record of 891-829 for a .518 winning per centage.
Over the last 41 games the Raptors will face teams with a combined record of 780-966 for a .447 winning per centage.
That’s a huge strength of schedule mismatch and has the Raptors sitting pretty. In the first half of the season, against tougher competition, the Raps are 21-20 for a .512 winning per centage.
Against the weaker teams, assuming they stay on roughly the same pace, they should easily finish in the high 40’s for wins, which should probably be good enough for a number three seed.
Now the bottom of the East’s playoff picture is murky, with Chicago, Washington, Brooklyn, Charlotte, Detroit and Cleveland all possible first round matchups.
But there’s one important thing to notice about all those teams, they’re all beatable in a first round series.
The Raps this season have winning or even records against Chicago (2-1), Washington (2-0), Detroit (1-0) and Brooklyn (1-1)
The only team they have a losing record against is Charlotte, who have beaten the Raps three times this year. The Raps haven’t played Cleveland yet.
So while it’s obvious with half a season to go that the Raptors still hold their own destiny in their hands, chances are good that even playing at their current pace gets them home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
That’s something Raptor fans have been clamouring for for years, a possible playoff series win.
Unfortunately they would then run into Miami or Indiana, which would be the end of their playoff run.