Toronto Raptors Still Going for Eighth Seed in Game No. 82

Stephen BrotherstonAnalyst IApril 13, 2010

ATLANTA - DECEMBER 02:  Sonny Weems #24 of the Toronto Raptors against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on December 2, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Whoever said all they wanted was to be playing meaningful games in April must have been stark-raving mad!  Every game in April has been meaningful for the Raptors and it is driving their fans crazy.

The Toronto Raptors have been playing meaningful games all month and have yet to win one on their home court.   By this point they are probably thankful someone put Philadelphia and Detroit on the away schedule in April.

By beating up on the apparently hapless Detroit Pistons 111-97, the Raptors kept their diminishing playoff hopes alive as they head into the final game of the season on Wednesday night against the New York Knicks at the ACC.

The Raptors are now a half game out of eighth in the East.

On Tuesday, the Chicago Bulls are facing a Boston Celtics team that still clings to the hope of a third-place finish.  If Boston can win their final two games of the regular season, and Cleveland decides to go all-out in their last game and beats the Hawks at the Q—Boston gets third by virtue of the first tie-breaker going to the division leader.

Odds are Boston would rather avoid the second-round matchup against Cleveland that goes to the winner of four vs. five.  So the Bulls should be expecting a motivated elite team to show up in Chicago.

No matter what the result of the Celtics-Bulls matchup, Wednesday night’s games will still be decisive in determining who gets the privilege of playing Cleveland in the first round.

And even though it looks like Chicago’s next opponent, Charlotte may be locked into seventh no matter what the outcome, it may be foolish to bet against them.  Charlotte has never been to the playoffs and have been very tough at home.

The Bulls secure eighth by beating both Boston at home and then Charlotte on the road.  Even though both are tough matchups, the Bulls can decide their own playoff fate.

The Raptors have owned the Knicks this season, with or without Chris Bosh.  On Wednesday night, on their home floor with the Knicks standing between them and a chance at a playoff spot, the Raptors have to be heavily favored.

Of course, nothing has come easily to the Toronto Raptors since the All-Star break.

Chris Bosh and Antoine Wright are out indefinitely.  And the Raptors new-found hope, Sonny Weems had to be helped off of the court in Detroit unable to put any weight on his foot.

Toronto may not be in a position to determine their own playoff fate. But Toronto fans should recognize that every game down the stretch of this season to game number 82 has been meaningful. 

Some of them have been excruciatingly painful to watch, but they have all been meaningful.