The Toronto Raptors playoff hopes are on life support but a win against the Washington Wizards on Thursday night could breathe some oxygen into the season.
Any hopes of seeing the Raptors playoff streak extended to eight seasons starts with a win against the Wizards, the team Toronto is chasing for 10th in the Eastern Conference.
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The Raptors are three games behind Washington with six to play – a loss Thursday would not technically eliminate them but it would make things nearly impossible.
Toronto needs to win most, if not all, of their remaining six games to have any chance at catching the Wizards, and they will need help from around the NBA.
Catching Washington does not even earn the Raptors a playoff spot, it only gets them into a play-in tournament that would require two wins in a row for the eighth seed in the playoffs.
After Wednesday’s games, Toronto has a nine per cent chance of making the play-in round and head coach Nick Nurse knows Thursday’s game is pivotal.
"“That’s probably our last chance saloon,” said Nurse, to reporters. “I think them getting that one against us would be awful tough for us to recover from. [If] we get it, it puts us in there legitimately.”"
The Raptors come into the game at 27-39 after dropping four of their last five contests. Washington lost Wednesday’s game with Milwaukee 135-134 to drop to 30-36.
Further adding to the play-in drama are the Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls. Indiana sits ninth in the East, just half a game ahead of Washington. Chicago is in 12th, trailing Toronto by half a game.
The team is managing injuries carefully to core players while giving extra minutes to rotation players they would like a longer look at. Toronto is in a tough spot of straddling making the play-in tournament with giving extended time to younger, unproven players.
Thursday’s game tips off at 7:30 PM EST at the Raptors 2021 home in Tampa.
Who do you think will win the game between the Raptors and Wizards tonight? What do you make of the Toronto Raptors’ playoff hopes? Let us know in the comments below.