If the Toronto Raptors Look Ahead


If the Toronto Raptors Look Ahead…

Last night’s loss to the Boston Celtics might be good for the Toronto Raptors in the long run if you try to look ahead, which, granted, is never a great idea for a sports’ team to do. But sometimes it is just logical (see last year’s result of the Nets avoiding the Bulls to face the Raptors).

More from Toronto Raptors

Raptors’ fans, bring it in… it actually looks like it may not have been a bad idea to lose Tuesday night, even in such heartbreaking fashion (but give it up to Celtics’ Jae Crowder on a nice shot on the corner three to win).

Mar 4, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) gets ready for a free throw against the Toronto Raptors at the Air Canada Centre. Cleveland defeated Toronto 120-112. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Listen up!! Here’s the situation:

If the Raptors get third place, they’ll face Milwaukee in the first round — and if they win, they would likely play Cleveland in the second round. Who really wants to play LeBron James in the second round?? Not I….

If the Raptors finish fourth, they’ll play Washington in the first round — and if they win, they would likely play Atlanta (Al Horford, below, right) in the second round. Atlanta is a great team, but the Raptors have matched up well against the Hawks this season, winning three of the four games they’ve played.

VERDICT: Let the Cavs and Bulls beat the snot out of each other in the second round and we’ll take our chances with Atlanta. It’s gotta be the Raps best chance of going a long way. And perhaps the Cavs or Bulls will be to beat up from an amazing series and the Raptors (or the Hawks) can be beneficiaries and pull an upset (I don’t care the seedings — Cleveland will be the favourite in any Eastern matchup).

Feb 20, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Toronto Raptors forward James Johnson (3) shoots between Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap (4) and guard Kyle Korver (26) during the first half at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Avoiding Cleveland for as long as possible is the best idea for playoff success. So, a poor finish for Toronto may make for a better playoff run. All that the Raps need is a loss on the last day to Charlotte, who may be treating the finale versus Toronto as their own respective NBA Finals, since they will not be going to the playoffs. If the Bulls win tomorrow, they will get the number-three seed as they are leading the Raps by a game. The only way I believe the Raptors get third-place is with a win and a Bulls loss (but, as I said, that’s probably not a good idea for round two).

So even with it being fan-appreciation night in Toronto, I’m sure the fans would appreciate a playoff series win even more. And the fans would most appreciate a first-round win with a decent second-round shot. For the latter, the Raptors may be best to pull a Brooklyn Nets, circa-2014, and tank the final game for a more desirable playoff route. I know the most typical wish is to win every game possible, especially the final game of the season — the final home game of the season — and while taking the franchise record for wins in a season. But the fans will sacrifice one fan appreciation night for more playoff games. At least I would appreciate more meaningful Raptors basketball later in the playoffs.

Next: Toronto Raptors Lose, But Maybe Not in the Long Run