The Toronto Raptors will face their Atlantic Division rival Philadelphia 76ers in the opening round of the playoffs.
The Raptors (48-34) clinched their eighth playoff berth in nine seasons with Tuesday’s win versus Atlanta, and secured the fifth seed with Friday’s comeback against Houston.
But the logjam in the Eastern Conference meant having to wait until the end of Sunday’s regular-season finales to learn their post-season opponent.
The Boston Celtics’ 139-110 victory over Memphis secured them the No. 2 spot in the East, meaning Philly could finish no better than fourth, and Toronto, fifth, regardless of their results Sunday.
The Raptors, who sat Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet on Sunday for rest, finished with a meaningless 105-94 loss in New York against the Knicks.
Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin each capped their season-ending surges in style, when Quickley posted a triple-double and Toppin scored a career-high 42 points for the hosts in the regular-season finale for both teams. The Raptors had plenty of big names on the bench. Toronto’s Fred VanVleet (right knee) and Pascal Siakam sat out
Toronto’s best-of-seven series will begin in Philadelphia, either Saturday or Sunday.
The Knicks (37-45), who ended a seven-year postseason drought last spring, finished 11th in the East, six games out of a spot in the play-in tournament.
The Raptors head into the post-season on a hot streak that began with a five-game winning streak out west in early March. They won 14 of 18 games since then, the best record in the league during that stretch.
The Raptors won their season series against Philly 3-1, including a short-handed 119-114 victory against the visiting Sixers on Thursday. Philadelphia’s elite defender Matisse Thybulle was ruled ineligible to play in Toronto on Thursday, leaving him in doubt for post-season games at Scotiabank Arena. Players must be vaccinated to cross the border to play. The rules apply for Toronto players travelling south, but the Raptors are 100-per-cent vaccinated.
The Raptors have faced Philly twice in the post-season, most memorably in 2019 when Kawhi Leonard hit the buzzer-beater in Game 7 of the conference semifinals en route to winning the NBA championship.
The Raptors lost to the Sixers in the 2001 conference semi-finals, in a thrilling seven-game battle that featured Vince Carter and Allen Iverson.
with a report from The Associated Press