Raptors look around the NBA
The Toronto Raptors will have a chance to clinch the Eastern Conference's second-best record tonight when they take on the East's third-seeded Boston Celtics.
Toronto is 1-2 against the Celtics this year, though Pascal Siakam and Marc Gasol were only healthy for one of those games, a 112-106 loss to Boston in the second game of the season.
Before previewing that game, here's a quick look around the NBA:
Bucks: The Milwaukee Bucks clinched the Eastern Conference's top seed last night with a win over the Jimmy Butler-less Miami Heat. It took an incredible a 23-point comeback to overcome Miami but in the end, the Bucks ran away with it 130-116. Now Giannis Antetokounmpo and company can kick back and wait for the playoffs to start.
Lakers: The Los Angeles Lakers have lost three of their last four games and four of their last six if you want to count their March 10th loss to the Brooklyn Nets that now seems like a decade ago. They now only lead the Raptors by 1.5 games for the second-best record in the NBA. This is something to monitor because while home-court advantage might not seem like something important in the NBA bubble, Raptors coach Nick Nurse still wants it just in case something changes.
"I'm not sure the home court thing won't be a little bit of an advantage, maybe," Nurse said Wednesday. "It seems like they're tweaking a little bit more and more as they go here in the games, as they're learning things about how to put the game on in this setting. We're seeing familiar faces on those screens, and who knows what it'll evolve to here two months from now. So I don't want to discount the home court thing quite yet."
Also, LeBron James seemed to hint to The Athletic that something is amiss inside the bubble.
Bottom of the East: The Washington Wizards are yet to win a game inside the NBA bubble and have now dropped below the Charlotte Hornets — who were not invited to Orlando — for the tenth seed in the East. If their goal was to tank, it seems to be working.
The Nets remain in the seventh seed, for now, just a half-game up on the Orlando Magic. This could flip at any moment but really shouldn't matter to the Raptors as both teams are incredibly banged up and shouldn't present a problem for Toronto in the first round.
Out West: The only thing of any real interest in the West is the fight for the eighth seed. The Memphis Grizzlies — who will play Toronto on Sunday — are currently clinging to the spot but without Jaren Jackson Jr. and Justice Winslow for the rest of the year, it's doubtful they can hold on. With the Portland Trail Blazers just a half-game back of Memphis, don't be surprised if Damien Lillard and company sneak into the playoffs.