All eight playoff teams in the Western Conference have been decided as the ninth placed Memphis Grizzlies were eliminated from contention last week. It is now down to each playoff team to scrap for playoff positioning and potential home court advantage.
In the Eastern Conference there is a three-way fight for the final playoff spot. The Miami Heat, Orlando Magic and Charlotte Hornets continue to battle to be the eight seed when the playoffs start later this month. Having picked up a vital win over Miami last week, a loss against the Detroit Pistons saw the Orlando Magic drop down to ninth. With Miami taking the eight spot back.
Orlando Magic @ Toronto Raptors – Monday 1st April 2019
All three teams fighting for a playoff spot will try their hand at the second seeded Toronto Raptors this week and first up is the Orlando Magic. After a perfect 5-0 homestand they were able to pick up a major win over their rival Miami Heat. This matchup presents a great opportunity for Orlando who currently hold a 2-1 lead in the season series against the Tornto Raptors and a win could send a real message.
The Raptors could be looking at a potential first round matchup in the Magic. With 38 wins on the season they could still yet force their way into the seventh position. Currently holding a losing record against the Magic, Kawhi Leonard and company will be looking to tie the season series and show that they have the momentum should the teams end up facing each other in the first round of the postseaon.
Toronto Raptors @ Charlotte Hornets – Friday 5th April 2019
Charlotte are currently three wins off of the eight seed and will need to have perfect run to end the season if they are to have a chance at stealing the eighth seed when the season ends. There will not be much tougher of a challenge for the Hornets though, despite squeezing by for a one-point victory the last time these two teams met. They were blown out in the first match suffering a 21-point loss.
Toronto are still pushing for the number one seed in the East and with so few games to go they will not have many opportunities to make up the three game gap between themselves and the first placed Milwaukee Bucks. But securing a win over the Charlotte Hornets could keep their first seed hopes alive for a little while longer.
Miami Heat @ Toronto Raptors – Sunday 7th April 2019
It is the team currently in pole position for the final playoff spot that face the Raptors last this week. By that time, it could be decided that the Milwaukee Bucks. This could really help the Heat hold onto a playoff place as the Raptors may decided to rest their key players for fear of injury when the playoffs start.
However, the Raptors currently hold a 3-0 series season lead and know that they hold the mental edge over their opponents. Again a win here to wrap up the season series could provide them with the momentum they need should the two teams face off in the postseason with Miami so close to the seventh seeded Brooklyn Nets.
By Sonny Cohen