The Final Stretch: Will the Raptors get the number 1 seed?

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 9: Jonas Valanciunas
TORONTO, ON - MARCH 9: Jonas Valanciunas /

The season’s last 7 games for the Raptors should be among the most exciting we’ve seen. There’s a lot to play for.

The 2017-2018 regular season has been a resounding success for the Toronto Raptors. They will either tie their best Eastern Conference finish in franchise history, or for the first time finish atop the Eastern Conference, with the stretch goal of 60 wins in mind.

However the road to first place is going to have an exciting finish, as the next seven games are the ones Toronto fans have been looking forward to all season.

The stretch run  starts off with arguably the most anticipated three game stretch of the season in Boston on March 31st, and then back to Cleveland on the 2nd of April before travelling home the next night to play Boston again. It is a defining stretch versus the two largest hurdles to the Raptors first-ever finals appearance.

Beware the Celtics

In Boston, the Raptors face the only team that can snatch their first-place crown. The Celtics are currently three games back of the Raptors. The two games against them represent the swing that will determine the number 1 seed. Other than the game with the Cavs, the Raptors will be favoured in their final four match-ups, and the likelihood of losing all four will be low. The Celtics will be coming out knowing that, with losses, they cannot make up the ground they need to get the number 1 seed.


As many have correctly pointed out, to win the East, you must go through LeBron. Regardless of your position on when you play the Cavs, the match-up will likely happen in the playoffs. Lebron has matured (Iike a fine wine) and his presence alone can be enough if the Cavs are having an off night shooting the basketball. For this regular season match-up though, to win convincingly would be the best result. The Raptors beatdown of the Cavaliers on January 11 feels like a distant memory compared to the loss the Raptors took a week ago. Winning this game easily would send a message that, even with Kevin Love, the Cavs have to play near-perfect basketball to beat the Raptors.

CLEVELAND, OH – MARCH 21: DeMar DeRozan /

Will these games matter?

Depending on the results of these first three games, the final four will either be must-wins , or filler before the playoffs. If Toronto makes their statement and win all three games against the Cavs and Celtics, expect rest for those who need it (looking at you, starting line-up). I am most looking forward to see what the Raptors do if they end up controlling Miami’s destiny on the final game of the season. If a win gives Miami the final playoff spot, does our team want to face them?

More from Raptors Rapture

Miami or Milwaukee has been a debate the past month or so, but in the end I would rather see the Bucks. It comes down to coaching, and in that match-up, the Raps have a distinct advantage.  Dwane Casey has proven that he is a coach who can adjust, and has been more willing to make great in-game decisions. The Bucks however, have remained consistently flat since their coaching change. Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is a master of in-game adjustment, and has done a fantastic job of getting the most out of his line-up.

TORONTO, ON – FEBRUARY 13: Goran Dragic
TORONTO, ON – FEBRUARY 13: Goran Dragic /

It’s been a great trip so far

Regardless of where the seeding leaves the Raptors at the end of the season, it is so fun to be talking about the final stretch, the number 1 seed, 60 wins, and they are all a big deal. The City of Toronto is ready to burst with excitement. I cannot wait to see what the our team delivers in  April, May, and hopefully June!