Raps waiting for playoff picture to develop

MIKE GANTER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:57 AM ET

The Raptors' final four games are becoming less and less meaningful by the day.

Their hold on third place in the Eastern Conference and first-round home-court advantage was solidified Tuesday night with the second of back-to-back losses by Miami to the Charlotte Bobcats. The Raps now have a three-game edge on the Heat with four games remaining for both teams.

While there's a chance the Raps could still move up to second in the conference, it would mean overcoming a 11/2 game deficit to the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls have three games remaining.

The bigger question now is if the Raptors do wind up with the third seed, who is going to provide the opposition from the No 6 spot.

Initially that looked like it would be the Washington Wizards, but a New Jersey win over Washington on Tuesday has the Nets within two games of the Wizards with both teams having five left to play.

Playing without injured starters Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler, the Wizards have lost five in a row and are showing no signs of coming out of that slide.

But not even a possible Vince Carter and New Jersey Nets first round matchup could get Sam Mitchell drawn into a conversation about possible playoff opponents yesterday.

"You're going to play who you're going to play," Mitchell said, waving off any further discussion.

FORD HAS BEEN THERE

T.J. Ford has five games of NBA playoff basketball on his resume which ranks him fifth on a Raptors team that has a combined 105 games of playoff experience on its entire roster.

Ford said the game changes dramatically once the post-season begins.

"It's just more intense," Ford said.

"Everyone is more focussed, more into it both mentally and physically. It's not like the regular season. It's still basketball but it's one team trying to take away what the other team does best. "You have to be able to make adjustments and figure things out because when you play a team as many as seven times, they're going to lock in on what you do.

"Every game possibly could be different."


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