NEW YORK – The chips are down, the Toronto Raptors will face the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
The Raptors (48-34) clinched their eighth playoff appearance in nine seasons with a victory over the Atlanta Hawks last Tuesday. Then on Friday they confirmed their fifth-place finish by making a comeback to beat the Rockets on Friday.
However, congestion in the Eastern Conference standings meant that everyone had to wait until the last day of the regular season to find out their first-round opponent.
In the Raptors’ case, star players Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet were given a day off on Sunday and the team suffered an inconsequential 105-94 loss to the New York Knicks.
The Boston Celtics clinched a 139-110 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies to secure second place in the East. Thus, the Sixers could not do better than fourth place and the Raptors were already confined to fifth place.
The best-of-seven series kicks off in Philadelphia next Saturday or Sunday.
The Raptors will enter the playoffs on a hot streak since a five-game winning streak out west in early March, with the Toronto squad winning 14 of 18 games. This is the best record in the NBA during this period.
Against the 76ers, the Raptors went 3-1 this season, including a 119-114 win at home last Thursday. Sixers defensive specialist Matisse Thybulle was unable to play in Toronto in that game, casting doubt on his presence in Canada for the series.
Players must be vaccinated to cross the Canadian border. The rule also applies to Raptors players who must travel to the United States, but the entire team has been vaccinated.
The Raptors will obviously have to keep an eye on Joel Embiid. Embiid has had an extraordinary 2021-2022 season. He became the first center to win the NBA scoring championship since Shaquille O’Neal in 2000.
In the playoffs, the Raptors and Sixers have met twice. In 2019, the Torontonians won to the sound of the siren during Kawhi Leonard’s memorable shot at the very end of the 7th game. The Raptors then continued their journey to the title of NBA champions.
In 2001, the Sixers won the Eastern semi-finals after a fiery duel featuring Vince Carter and Allen Iverson.
Defeat in New York
As mentioned above, the Raptors were at Madison Square Garden for the final game of the regular season. Obi Toppin had the best game of his young career with 42 points as teammate Immanuel Quickley added 34 points along with 10 rebounds and 12 assists as the Knicks won 105-94.
The Knicks ended their disappointing season with a 37-45 record. On Sunday, they only bet on eight players in uniform. Their young players still had a good end to the season, winning seven of their last ten games.
On the Raptors side, without Siakam and VanVleet, Chris Boucher scored 21 points and Gary Trent Jr. added 17. The Raptors led by three points at the start of the fourth quarter before seeing the Knicks line up nine straight points to save themselves with the game.
Other known clashes in the 1st round
Dollars (3) c. Bulls (6)
Warriors (3) c. Nuggets (6)
Mavericks (4) c. Jazz (5)
The first two teams from each association will have to wait for the results of the knockout tournament in order to know their first-round opponents.
Elsewhere in the NBA
Stimulators 126 – Nets 134
IND: Tyrese Haliburton finished his season with a brace of 17 points and 10 assists
BRO: A hat-trick of 20 points, 16 assists and 10 rebounds for Kevin Durant
Wizards 108 – Hornets 124
WAS: Rui Hachimura has 21 points
CHA: LaMelo Ball just missed the hat-trick, with 24 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists
115 dollars – 133 riders
MIL: Sandro Mamukelashvili had the best game of his career with 28 points, 13 rebounds and four assists
CLE: good harvest of 32 points and 10 rebounds for veteran Kevin Love
Falcons 130 – Rockets 114
ATL: Trae Young had 28 points and 11 assists
HOU: Jalen Green concluded his rookie season with a big performance of 41 points
Heat 111 – Magic 125
MIA: big double of 40 points and 10 rebounds for Victor Oladipo
ORL: Mo Bamba was the best of his team with 21 points and 10 rebounds
Pistons 106 – 76ers 118
DET: doubled 20 points and 10 rebounds for Luke Garza
PHI: Shake Milton led his team with 30 points
Celtics 139 – Grizzlies 110
BOS: Jayson Tatum continued his strong end to the season with 31 points and nine rebounds
MEM: hat-trick for John Konchar with 17 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists
Bulls 124 – Timberwolves 120
CHI: career high of 35 points for Patrick Williams
MIN: Nathan Knight led Wolves with 17 points
Jazz 111 – Trail Blazers 80
UTA: double of 18 points and 13 points for Rudy Gobert
POR: Reggie Perry has amassed 20 points
Kings 116 – Suns 109
SAC: Davion Mitchell scored 19 points and added 15 assists
PHO: Landry Shamet led the Suns with 27 points
Thunder 88 – Mowers 138
OKC: doubled 17 points and 15 rebounds for Jaylen Hoard
LAC: monstrous performance of 35 points and 13 rebounds for Amir Coffey
Lakers 146 – Nuggets 141 (OT)
LAK: hat-trick of 31 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists for Austin Reaves
DEN: Bryn Forbes led Nuggest with 24 points
Spurs 120 – Mavericks 130
SAS: Keldon Johnson finished the game with 24 points, six rebounds and four steals
DAL: Before leaving due to injury, Luka Doncic had 26 points, nine assists and eight rebounds
Warriors 128 – Pelicans 107
GSW: best game of the season for Klay Thompson with 41 points
NOP: Naji Marshall was the author of 19 points