NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, April 16th (All times Eastern)
Toronto Raptors (48-33) at New York Knicks (36-45), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - It will take the last game of the regular season to determine what seed the Toronto Raptors will be for the playoffs.
The Raptors have to get through the pesky New York Knicks Wednesday at Madison Square Garden and can lock up the third spot in the Eastern Conference with a win or a Chicago loss in Charlotte.
Toronto will fall to the No. 4 spot if it loses and the Bulls top the Bobcats.
In the postseason for the first time since 2007-08, the Atlantic Division- champion Raptors set a franchise record for wins with Monday's 110-100 victory versus the Milwaukee Bucks at Air Canada Centre. Greivis Vasquez started in place of DeMar DeRozan and made five 3-pointers en route to 25 points, while Kyle Lowry added 24 points for Toronto, which posted its team-best 48th win.
The previous record of 47 wins was achieved twice in 2000-01 and 2006-07.
"I always have been ready for any opportunity since I got here," Vasquez said. "I'm all about winning and they gave me a chance to start, and I want to help the team win and have a presence in games."
Jonas Valanciunas recorded 14 points and 13 rebounds as the Raptors reached the 100-point mark for a seventh straight game.
DeRozan could return to the floor Wednesday to help Toronto capture the third spot in the East. His 22.8 scoring average is the highest since former Raptor and current Miami center Chris Bosh averaged 22.7 ppg in 2008-09. DeRozan is posting 24.2 points in the last six games.
The Raptors have won nine of their last 11 games and will try to work on their 22-18 road record at MSG. They have won four of the last five road contests.
New York spoiled Brooklyn's chances of locking up the No. 5 seed in the East with Tuesday's 109-98 victory over the Nets at Barclays Center. With All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony shut down for the rest of the season with a shoulder issue, rookie Tim Hardaway, Jr. posted a team-best 16 points.
Amare Stoudemire, J.R. Smith and Shannon Brown scored 14 points apiece, while Cole Aldrich ended with 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Knicks, who missed out on the eighth seed in the East. The Knicks have won three in a row and six of the last eight games.
"You enjoy it more when you're in (the playoff hunt), when you're fighting for something." Smith said of the win.
Meanwhile, an MRI on Anthony's shoulder revealed a small tear in the labrum of his right shoulder. The injury will not require surgery and he will be evaluated in a month. This could be Anthony's last season with the Knicks and he is a pending free agent. He will miss the playoffs for the first time in his career and averaged 27.4 ppg this season.
Anthony could opt out of his contract this summer and test free agency.
The Knicks, of course, hope to make some changes with Phil Jackson as the new team president and that could mean the departure of head coach Mike Woodson.
Stoudemire is expected to sit Wednesday's game for the Knicks, who have an 18-22 record at home and will not participate in the postseason for the first time since the 2009-10 campaign.
Toronto is 2-1 against New York this season and won the first meeting at Madison Square Garden 95-83 on Dec. 27. These two Atlantic Division inhabitants have split the last 10 games.
Lowry is averaging 24.0 points, 8.0 assists and 4.7 rebounds in three games against the Knicks this season.
04/16 10:30:18 ET