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|MIAMI — Call this a possible playoff preview.
The Toronto Raptors (59-22) and the host Miami Heat (43-3 meet on Wednesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena to close out their regular seasons http://www.raidersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-martavis-bryant-jersey , and there’s a chance these two teams will also face each other in the first round of the playoffs.
The Raptors have the top seed in the Eastern Conference wrapped up and will open the playoffs against the No. 8 seed. The Heat and Washington Wizards are tied for seventh place, a game behind the sixth-place Milwaukee Bucks.
The Heat could wind up seeded anywhere from sixth to eighth, but if they lose to Toronto and the Wizards win at Orlando, the Heat would finish eighth and face the Raptors to open the playoffs.
Heat veteran shooting guard Dwyane Wade is not concerned with the possibility of having to face the Raptors.
“I’m not focused on that,” Wade said when asked about the playoffs. “I’ve been to 13 playoffs now coming up. I have seen so many different scenarios. I have seen so many things happen at the last minute.
“It doesn’t matter. We’re in the playoffs, and whoever we play, we play.”
Heat point guard Goran Dragic said his team’s two-game losing streak is also not a major concern.
“Of course we would like to finish the season with a win,” he said. “We know we’re playing Toronto (Wednesday). We’ll see what happens.”
Meanwhile, Raptors coach Dwane Casey told reporters on Monday that his team is not about to coast into the playoffs.
“We’re taking these last games seriously,” Casey said. “Now is not the time to let bad habits creep into our game. We want to sharpen our game and be ready for the playoffs.”
The Raptors held out two core players in Monday’s win over the Detroit Pistons — starting power forward Serge Ibaka, who was rested; and reserve point guard Fred Van Vleet, who has tightness in his lower back. There is no word yet as to whether they will be available on Wednesday Sylvester Williams Color Rush Jersey , although it is assumed Ibaka will play.
Despite appearances that may suggest otherwise, Toronto’s players and coaches insist they do have some things to play for on Wednesday. For starters, they would like to reach 60 victories, although 59 is already a franchise record.
“We want 60,” Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry said. “It would be a great achievement for our franchise.”
In addition, the Raptors entered Tuesday leading the Golden State Warriors by one game in the overall NBA standings, and that could be important for home-court advantage if those two teams happen to meet in the NBA Finals.
Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said he believes in Toronto’s talent.
“I’ve said it for a long time: I think they are the best team in the East,” Van Gundy said. “They are the team to beat. They are a really, really good team.”
The Heat, meanwhile, are not clicking at the moment.
Dragic, who leads the team in scoring (17.3) and assists (4. James Washington Color Rush Jersey , is coming off a dreadful game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday. Dragic was held to four points and seven assists in a 115-93 loss, shooting just 2-of-10 from the floor.
Worse yet, Dragic and the entire Heat team got abused by Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook, who had 23 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists for his 25th triple-double of the season.
The Heat were outscored 39-12 in the fourth period, which was so bad it was epic. In the history of Heat home games, they have never had a worse quarter in terms of scoring margin.
Heat forward James Johnson was poked in the eye in the Thunder game, and Miami wing Josh Richardson banged his knee. However, both suggested they are fine.
Richardson, in fact, said the Heat will be motivated on Wednesday.
“It won’t be hard,” Richardson said when asked about intensity for Wednesday’s game. “We will play for the next season (playoffs). We shouldn’t need any more motivation than that.”
There is a swirl of discussion over the availability of a few key players for Game 5 of the first-round playoff series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers.
This much Authentic Baker Mayfield Jersey , though, is certain: The Penguins, who hold a 3-1 series lead, can wrap things up and move on to the Eastern Conference semifinals with a win Friday at PPG Paints Arena.
Meanwhile, the Flyers are facing elimination.
“We’re not ready for our season to be over,” Philadelphia captain Claude Giroux said Thursday. “We go to Pittsburgh, tough building to play in. We know we can win there. We know if we play our game we can win.
“So we’re going to go out there, play our game and be back (home) for Game 6.”
Giroux, who had 102 points during the regular season, has been held to one assist and is minus-7 in the four games this series.
Philadelphia general manager Ron Hextall exonerated Giroux, saying there are a lot of factors in one players’ numbers being down, and he didn’t have to get technical when breaking down his club’s game plan for extending its season.
“We need to play better http://www.eaglesauthorizedshops.com/authentic-richard-rodgers-jersey ,” Hextall said. “They’ve played extremely well, and we need to play better.”
Philadelphia top-line center and Selke Trophy finalist Sean Couturier, who missed Game 4 because of an injury sustained in practice Tuesday, skated but did not practice Thursday and accompanied the team to Pittsburgh. After practice, he indicated there is a chance he could play.
“Feeling better every day, and we’ll see (Friday) how I feel,” Couturier said.
Pittsburgh will be without tenacious winger Patric Hornqvist for the second straight game because of an unspecified injury, although he skated on his own Thursday.
The Penguins apparently dodged a huge setback after goaltender Matt Murray needed attention from a trainer during practice Thursday. Murray remained on the ice and continued in goal until the end of practice.
Afterward, he declined to say what ailed him but proclaimed, “I’m good.”
Murray in Game 4 became the NHL goalie to reach 25 playoff wins the fastest, doing it in 36 games.
With two shutouts this series – along with a 1.27 goals-against average and a .948 save percentage — Murray has been part of a dominating Pittsburgh performance in its three wins, which have been by a combined score of 17-1.
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby — whose goal and assist in Game 4 gave him 173 career playoff points Authentic Josh Allen Jersey , moving him ahead of Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux for the club record — warned that his team’s three lopsided wins haven’t come as easily as they might have looked.
“It’s playoff hockey,” he said. “They’ve had chances, and we’ve gotten saves and big plays.
“It’s about momentum and different points in games, and we’ve executed well, but that can change quickly if you don’t play the right way.”
Crosby and the Penguins know what facing a team on the precipice is all about after winning the Stanley Cup the past two years. In those two playoff runs, they were 8-5 when they had a chance to eliminate an opponent, 4-3 last year.
“It’s always hard to end someone’s season. We know they’re going to be desperate and throw everything at us,” Penguins winger Jake Guentzel said.
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