If the Toronto Raptors have a preferable post-season opponent, they’re not saying.
The Raptors wrap up their record-breaking regular season Wednesday night at New York, and won’t know until post-game who’ll they’ll face in the playoffs.
And they insist they don’t care.
“We’re just worried about ourselves,” Amir Johnson said after Monday’s victory over the Milwaukee Bucks. “We just want to clean up on our mistakes. Whoever’s in front of us, we’re going to play the same way we’ve been playing all season.”
The Raptors, who set a franchise record with their 48th win of the season Monday night, will face either the Brooklyn Nets, Washington Wizards or Charlotte Bobcats when the opening round begins this weekend.
The Raptors are tied with the Chicago Bulls for third in the Eastern Conference, but control their own destiny. They’ll clinch the No. 3 seed if they either beat the Knicks on Wednesday, or the Bulls lose at Charlotte. They’ll finish fourth if they lose and Chicago wins.
“We haven’t thought about it or talked about it,” guard Kyle Lowry said, about the ramifications of Wednesday’s schedule. “We’re just going to go out there and play our game.”
Raptors coach Dwane Casey has been resting his starters – all-star DeMar DeRozan got the night off Monday. Casey said he would consider resting DeRozan again Wednesday, despite what outcome that might have on the game, and their conference seeding.
“I’m more worried about us moreso than who we play. It’s about us. About our health, rest, whatever we decide to do in that situation. If we play Brooklyn, we play Brooklyn, if we play Washington, we play Washington, there’s no easy teams left in the playoffs right now, all the teams are very capable,” Casey said.
“Brooklyn is probably more playoff-ready, but we can’t control that and we’re not going into this game trying to control that. I’m more worried about our guys’ health – rest if we rest them – and our rhythm. And it’s a fine line between the two.”
While the players might not have a stated preference, fans certainly do, and general consensus is Washington. The Raptors won the season series against the Wizards three games to one.
The Raptors lost all three of their games to Charlotte this season, although only by a combined nine points.
They split their four games with Brooklyn, but the Nets have that invaluable playoff experience. Five Nets players alone – Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Deron Williams, Andrei Kirilenko and Joe Johnson – have 432 playoff appearances combined.
The Toronto Raptors: 147.
Raptors starters DeRozan, Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross: Zero.
The Raptors are making their first playoff appearance since 2007-08. They were beaten in five games by the Orlando Magic.
This is the sixth time in the team’s 19-year history they’ve made the playoffs. Their only series win was in 2000-01 when they beat the New York Knicks three games to two, before losing to the Philadelphia 76ers in seven games in the second round.