Toronto Raptors: Formula for success in the playoffs

TORONTO, ON - MAY 07: DeMar DeRozan
TORONTO, ON - MAY 07: DeMar DeRozan /

The Toronto Raptors have never finished the regular season in first place before, but they’ll need to this year if they want to be the team that comes out of the East.

If the playoffs were to begin today, the Toronto Raptors would face-off against the Milwaukee Bucks. In a rematch of last season’s first round match-up, the Raptors again would have a very high chance of moving onto the second round.

Unlike last season, the Raptors wouldn’t have to face the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round.

This time around, the Raptors would face the winner of the Indiana Pacers and Philadelphia 76ers match-up. Either team would be a much more favourable club to face than the Cavaliers. Instead, the Cavaliers would have to face the Washington Wizards in the first round.

If victorious, the Cavaliers would then face either the Boston Celtics or the Miami Heat in the second round.

As it stands, the Cavaliers and Celtics will have to finish second and third in the standings for the Raptors to avoid them until the Eastern Conference Finals.

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Currently, with the Celtics 7.5 games above fourth place and only 10 games remaining, they don’t pose a threat to that plan.

But, with the Cavaliers only 1.5 games ahead of the fourth spot in the East and with 10 games remaining, they could prove to be a big problem. Cleveland has a favorable schedule to win more than half of those 10 remaining games.

Six of the 10 games remaining are against teams with a losing record.

If the Cavaliers win those six games, that means the Pacers would have to win eight of their nine games remaining. Or that the 76ers, would have to win nine of their 11 remaining games, to push the Cavaliers below the third spot in the East.

If the Raptors can avoid the Cavaliers and the Celtics until the Conference Finals and have home-court advantage, then they will have the best chance at advancing to their first-ever Finals appearance.

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What is your formula for success in the playoffs for the Raptors? Do you think they can avoid playing the Cavaliers? Let us know in the comments.