In a strong performance against a Western Conference power, head coach Dwane Casey earned the 100th win of his career with the Toronto Raptors in a 107-103 victory on Wednesday night over the Houston Rockets, and did it minus the services of Kyle Lowry, who sat with a sore left knee.
Now a perfect 18-0 at home when leading thru three quarters, Casey and the Atlantic Division leaders entered Wednesday’s action locked in a tie for third-place in the Eastern Conference with the Chicago Bulls, with both the Brooklyn Nets and Washington Wizards not far behind.
With the win, the Raptors managed to keep pace with the Bulls and sixth-place Wizards in the East after both notched victories of their own on Wednesday night, and also gained a game on the pesky Nets, who lost to the New York Knicks.
Despite a painfully slow start to the regular season that identified the Atlantic as one of the league’s worst divisions, the Raptors and Nets have drastically turned things around since, and are both now headed for the playoffs in a year that began with little more than disappointment and unfulfilled expectations.
Until very recently, Toronto’s upcoming tilt against the Indiana Pacers on Friday was thought to be the Raptors’ last versus a playoff-bound opponent in 2013-14. But after posting an 11-5 record in the month of March, the two games that remain between Toronto and New York, which include the regular season finale on April 16, could have some significant postseason implications.
With just four games separating the Raptors, Bulls, Nets, and Wizards in the East at the end of Wednesday however, the final pairings for the first round of the playoffs are likely to remain unknown until later next week.