Raptors' eyes focused on Bulls-Celtics
A Boston win Tuesday night would put Chicago, Toronto in 8th-place tie
It's a good bet many Toronto Raptors players won't be tuning into American Idol, The Biggest Loser or a repeat of Law and Order on Tuesday.
Instead, they'll probably be keeping an eye on the Boston Celtics' visit to Chicago at 8 p.m. ET.
A Bulls loss would put them back in a tie with Toronto for the final playoff spot in the NBA's Eastern Conference, with one remaining for each team.
Should Chicago prevail, it would lead the Raptors by one game and control its post-season fate entering Wednesday's matchup at Charlotte.
Toronto owns the tiebreaker by virtue of winning the season series.
"We've still got a long way to go," Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro said after his team's 104-88 win at Toronto on Sunday night. "We've got to refocus and get our energy back for Tuesday. Every game is like a playoff game for us."
The 39-42 Raptors, buoyed by Andrea Bargnani's game-high 33 points, kept their playoff hopes alive with a 111-97 road win over the Detroit Pistons on Monday night.
They shot 60 per cent from the field and three-point range and will finish the regular season Wednesday at 8 p.m. in a home game versus the 29-52 New York Knicks.
"We just have to pray on Boston now to beat Chicago," said Raptors' Amir Johnson, who had a career high 26 points against Detroit and is averaging 12 points and 6.5 rebounds in four games without all-star forward Chris Bosh in the Toronto lineup.
The Celtics lead the season series 2-1 but the Bulls pulled out a 96-83 win at Boston in the most recent meeting on Jan. 14.
However, the Celtics won by wide margins —118-90 and 106-80 — in the first two encounters.
In last year's first playoff round, Chicago and Boston battled through a gruelling seven-game series that featured a combined seven overtimes. The Bulls forced a deciding contest with a 128-127 triple-OT win at Chicago's United Center, but the Celtics closed out the series with a 109-99 triumph on home court.
Boston enters Tuesday's matching having won for just the third time in eight outings with a 105-90 victory at Milwaukee on Saturday.