Before the Raptors lost to the Cavaliers 113-101 on Tuesday, they were 38-38 and looked to have a grip on the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. But since they lost on Tuesday, and then again on Wednesday (to Boston), they're now 38-40 and I don't think they're going to hold on to see the Cavaliers again this season.
Not that the Raptors horribly underachieving season should be rewarded in the form of a first round playoff sweep by the Cavaliers anyways. What was it DeNiro told his kid in Bronx tale? Nothing worse in life than wasted talent? Well if Robby D were hanging around the NBA this year - instead of driving that bus - he'd probably say that there's nothing worse than these Toronto Raptors. Bosh, Hedo, Bargnani, Calderon, Jack, DeRozan...on paper this team should be the 5th seed in the East at worst, and I actually thought they'd finish 4th behind the Cavs, Magic, and Celtics in the preseason. However, turns out they're awful, and they also probably regret having the highest paid 11 point per game scorer in NBA history on their roster...Toronto sincerely appreciates your efforts Hedo.
Which brings me to not only Thursday's match-up, but also the team I expect the Cavaliers to play in the first round of the playoffs... Joakim Noah's Chicago Bulls - get your dancing shoes ready. The Bulls are currently sitting a half game back of the Raptors (37-40) after they beat Charlotte 96-88 on Saturday, and lost on Tuesday to the Bogut-less Bucks 79-74. Yeah and that was the final in case you missed it Tuesday...Deng had 16 to lead all Bulls and Rose had 12...they scored 9 as a team in the second quarter. But before you say an NBA team that can't total 75 points in a game played during the month of April does not deserve a spot in the playoffs, just remember, this is the Eastern Conference. And while quite possibly the two best teams in the NBA overall are in the East (Cleveland and Orlando) there are only four teams in the conference that would make the playoffs out West ahead of the 47-30 8th seeded Portland Trailblazers...but I digress, back to the Bulls...
After the Bulls play the Cavs Thursday, they head to New Jersey to play the UConn Women Nets, then they're at Toronto, home verse Boston, and then at Charlotte for the season finale. I think they'll do better than the Raptors, who after tonight are at Atlanta, home verse Chicago, at Detroit, and home verse the Nets.
How it plays out:
If the Cavs rest LeBron on Thursday, the Bulls could get that one. Assuming they lose though, they'll still win NJ, Toronto, and I'd say Charlotte (41-36) who will probably be resting people in their last regular season game, solidly slotted as the 7-seed in the playoffs. Boston could be a loss - as well as the Cavs - but at worst, I have Chicago at (3-2) 40-42. As for Toronto - who looks to be without Bosh for these last few - they'll lose to Atlanta, Chicago, and either the Pistons or Nets and finish 39-43, one game worse than the Bulls.
What it means for the Cavs:
Nothing, they will sweep either the Bulls or the Raptors. However, I would say that Chicago has a better chance of winning a game than Toronto does, and Joakim Noah will be more entertaining to beat, but regardless look to see these Bulls again in the post-season.