Valanciunas double-double secures Raptors No.2 seed for play-offs
Lithuanian NBA star Jonas Valanciunas' 17 points and 11 rebounds against Philadelphia saw the Toronto Raptors lock in their No. 2 seeding in the Eastern Conference and set up a match-up with the seventh-seeded Pacers in the play-offs.
It was Valanciunas' 22nd double-double of the season in an easy 122-98 win for the Raptors over the 76ers. With Indiana’s win in New York and Detroit’s loss to Miami, the Raptors will play the Pacers in the first round of the playoffs, which start at the weekend.
Every Toronto starter scored in double figures as the Raptors (55-26) won its third straight handing Philadelphia its 15th straight road loss.
Toronto guard DeMar DeRozan said that it was great to reach 55 wins in a franchise-best season, the focus after tomorrow's final match in Brooklyn will be the first-round of the playoffs, where the Raptors were swept by Washington last year.
"This is where it starts," DeRozan said. "It's not the end of the season, it's the start of a new one and that's how we've got to approach it."
After being tied at 72 with 5:19 to play in the third quarter, the Raptors went on a 20-2 run to open up a 92-74 lead with 11:05 to play. Even though the 76ers closed the gap to 13 points a number of times in the fourth quarter, they never really threatened the Raptors.
Philadelphia became only the fourth team in NBA history to lose 71 games or more in a single season with that loss. The only other teams face such infamy are the 1971-73 76ers (9-73), the 1992-93 Dallas Mavericks and the 1997-98 Denver Nuggests (both teams finished 11-71).
Valanciunas brought the crowd to its feet early with an alley-oop dunk and 10 early points as Toronto shot 54% from the field.
Rookie Norman Powell scored a team-high 18 points in a team-high 38 minutes.
"It was a shaky second quarter but we bounced back in the third," said Toronto coach Dwane Casey.