Preview: Magic begin season’s final road trip against East No. 1 Raptors
TV: FOX Sports Florida
TIME: Pregame coverage begins at 5:30 p.m.
TORONTO — The Toronto Raptors already have the most regular-season wins in their history and will finish first in the Eastern Conference, but hope to accomplish more.
The Raptors defeated the Indiana Pacers 92-73 on Friday night to earn their 57th win of the season, which surpasses their previous best of 56, and clinched first place in the conference for the first time.
“It’s gratification but you are not satisfied, I guess is how I would like to put it because we haven’t got to our ultimate goal,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said.
The Raptors (57-22) conclude their home schedule Sunday when they play the Orlando Magic (24-55) at the Air Canada Centre. They have two more road games to complete their regular season and will have the home-court advantage through the Eastern Conference playoffs.
“It is a feeling of gratification in the fact of where we started,” Casey said. “Seven years ago, at the bottom of the conference so to speak, bottom of offense, defense and the building process. … DeMar DeRozan coming from a young skinny kid at USC to where he is now. Kyle Lowry coming in and Jonas (Valanciunas) coming from Lithuania and growing, going through his growing pains.”
The Raptors, who have set a team record with 33 home victories, have won 17 of their past 20 games against Orlando, including both meetings this season. Toronto has swept the season-series with the Magic four times in team history, most recently in 2014-15.
While Toronto is hoping for a long playoff run, Orlando is looking at a possible lottery pick in the NBA draft.
The Charlotte Hornets defeated a depleted Orlando lineup 137-100 on Friday night.
Injuries have beset the Magic. Evan Fournier and Terrence Ross have been out with knee injuries and Jonathon Simmons also missed his ninth straight game with a right wrist contusion. Aaron Gordon (sore right calf) and Nikola Vucevic (tight lower back) also were scratched from the lineup Friday.
Talented rookie Jonathan Isaac will miss his fourth straight game Sunday with a sprained left ankle and his injury-plagued season could be over.
“Unless he turns a corner, there is a good chance he doesn’t play again this year,” Magic coach Frank Vogel said. “The emphasis of his offseason will be to strengthen his lower extremities.”
The Magic had four G-League callups in the lineup Friday and the team had a slow start, forcing Vogel to call two timeouts before eight minutes had been played.
“Our four young guys, they got opportunities to play extended minutes and earn jobs and make a name for themselves, and they did not take advantage of that opportunity tonight,” Vogel said.
The Raptors, meanwhile, hope the end of the regular season is just a beginning.
“I mean it just shows you once you put your mind to something to work towards, a goal, it can be accomplished,” DeRozan said. “We did that, now you know we have another goal that we want to reach as well, so it just gives us that confidence to know we can do it and take it to another level.”
Added Lowry: “This year we didn’t know what to expect. We knew things were going to be different and once we got into the season, we started playing well and kept going.”