The Toronto Raptors have had NBA Finals aspirations for the previous few seasons, but this time around they have a new coach and a whole host of new players to help change their playoff fortunes. Their first hurdle will be the Orlando Magic, celebrating a somewhat surprising postseason berth, their first since 2012.
A playoff mainstay against a roster of greenhorns might look like an obvious mismatch, but crazy things can happen in the playoffs, when game plan and matchups become even more important.
Here’s everything you need to know about this first-round matchup between the Raptors and Magic.
No. 2 Toronto Raptors vs. No. 7 Orlando Magic
How to watch Game 1
- Date: Saturday, April 13
- Time: 5 p.m. ET
- Location: Scotiabank Arena — Toronto, Ontario, Canada
- TV channel: ESPN
- Online streaming: WatchESPN
- Odds: Raptors -8.5
All games will air on ESPN, ABC, TNT and NBA TV during the postseason. Games on TNT and NBA TV can be streamed via fuboTV (Try it for free).
Playoff series schedule
All times Eastern
- Game 1: Magic at Raptors, Saturday, April 13, 5 p.m. — TV: ESPN
- Game 2: Magic at Raptors, Tuesday, April 16, 8 p.m. — TV: TNT | Streaming: fuboTV (try it free)
- Game 3: Raptors at Magic, Friday, April 19, 7 p.m. — TV: ESPN
- Game 4: Raptors at Magic, Sunday, April 21, 7 p.m. — TV: TNT | Streaming: fuboTV (try it free)
- Game 5*: Magic at Raptors, Tuesday, April 23, TBD — TV: TBD
- Game 6*: Raptors at Magic, Thursday, April 25, TBD — TV: TBD
- Game 7*: Magic at Raptors, Saturday, April 27, TBD — TV: TBD
Odds and Analysis
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Raptors: Toronto comes into the playoffs hoping to erase some serious demons. They’ve been eliminated by LeBron James-led Cavaliers teams in each of the pas three seasons, and obviously won’t have to deal with him this time around, but are still looking to prove they’re capable of making the NBA Finals. First-year head coach Nick Nurse has thrived since taking over for Dwane Casey, and new additions Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Marc Gasol have been welcome additions, bolstered by the massive improvement of Pascal Siakam. This is a Toronto team out for blood, but a first-round scare could give them flashbacks and severely damage their confidence.
Magic: You hate to use the term “playing with house money,” but it really applies here. Not many forecast the Magic to make the playoffs, and now that they have, pretty much nobody is giving them a chance against a loaded and experienced Raptors team. But that’s when upsets happen, when teams play with nothing to lose. Nikola Vucevic has been outstanding all season, and Aaron Gordon could be poised for a playoff breakout. It’s time to roll the ball out and see what happens.
Matchups to watch
1. Pascal Siakam vs. Aaron Gordon: Gordon, an emerging star, will likely be guarded by (among others) Siakam, who’s evolved into one of the most versatile defenders in the NBA. Gordon is a tough matchup for bigs because of his ability to play on the perimeter, and a tough matchup for wings because of his strength in the post — Siakam can handle both, which could make things difficult for Gordon in his first playoff appearance.
2. Bench units: This isn’t to be flip, but the Raptors bench could give the Magic starters a run for their money. Led by Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby and Serge Ibaka, Toronto’s depth has been one of its strong suits for several seasons now. Contrast that with the Magic, who have limited bench help outside of former Raptor Terrence Ross, and there could be some ugly minutes while Steve Clifford tries to get his starters some much-needed rest.
3. Kyle Lowry vs. His injuries: Toronto has rested Lowry quite a bit this season, but he has some nagging ailments that just won’t seem to go away. The Raptors will probably be alright without him given the depth mentioned above, but they’ll need Lowry during crunch time if the games end up close.
Series prediction, pick
Raptors in four: It’d be nice to think the Magic will be able to get at least a game in their playoff return, but it doesn’t seem to be in the cards. Toronto has the advantage in pretty much every aspect, so it’ll take some monster games from Vucevic and Gordon, plus hot shooting from Ross, DJ Augustin and Evan Fournier to even have a chance. There could be some close games, but ultimately this ends in a Toronto sweep.