The Toronto Raptors' season comes to a disappointing end
The GIST: Aided by a very vocal nine-year-old, the Chicago Bulls put an end to the Toronto Raptors’ playoff dreams on Wednesday, handing the Raps a 109–105 play-in game L. Let’s take stock of what’s next for the Dinos, then, the show must go on — there’s more NBA playoff hoops to discuss.
Raptors outlook: It’s fitting the Raps blew a 19-point lead to close a season best described as “inconsistent.” Toronto saw a serious mid-season skid due to injury and poor defense, but they managed to claw their way back up the standings as the offense (and rising star Scottie Barnes) found their rhythm.
- But looking ahead, the Raptors may look very different next year. Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. are unrestricted free agents, and, most notably, head coach Nick Nurse’s Toronto tenure is more than likely done. *sniffs*
Tonight’s play-in games: Along with the Eastern Conference (EC) No. 10 Bulls, the Western Conference (WC) No. 10 Oklahoma City Thunder also channeled their inner Drake to eliminate the No. 9 New Orleans Pelicans and earn their spot in tonight’s must-win matchups.
- First up is the EC, where Jimmy Butler and the No. 7 Miami Heat will be hell-bent on revenge when they host the defensive powerhouse Bulls at 7 p.m. ET.
- Then out West, the No. 8 Minnesota Timberwolves, joined by the newly reinstated Rudy Gobert, take on All-Star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and the Thunder at 9:30 p.m. ET. Play nice, boys.
Weekend playoff preview: Whether this is your first season of The Real Housewives of the NBA Playoffs or your 50th, here’s a quick refresher on the playoff format: From here on out, each round consists of a seven-game series. In the first round, the No. 1 seed in each conference plays the No. 8 seed (which will be grabbed tonight), No. 2 faces No. 7, and so on.
- Two must-watch series? In the WC, it’s the No. 3 Sacramento Kings, who’ll make their first playoff appearance in 17 years when they host the defending champ No. 6 Golden State Warriors tomorrow at 8:30 p.m. ET.
- Then on Sunday, superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo (pronounced ah-det-oh-KOON-boh) and his EC No. 1 Milwaukee Bucks take on the winner of tonight’s Heat/Bulls game. No rest for the weary.