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Toronto Raptors

Heat Check: Will Raptors finish first in the East?

kawhi-leonard-khris-middleton-022119-ftr-nba-getty
Khris Middleton guards Kawhi Leonard (NBA Getty Images)

As action resumes following the All-Star Break, the Toronto Raptors (43-16) currently sit one game behind the Milwaukee Bucks (43-14) for the East's top seed. While Milwaukee owns the tiebreaker between the two teams, there are still plenty of games left to be played.

MORE: How remaining schedules impact playoff races

With that in mind, will the Raptors earn the No. 1 seed for the second straight year? Our NBA.com Staff weighs in…

Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): While the Raptors' remaining schedule is fairly advantageous, I don't see them overtaking the Bucks for the No. 1 seed. At the trade deadline, Toronto made moves to bolster its roster and it entered the break with the league's longest win streak; still, the team trails Milwaukee by one game in the standings.

So far, the regular season just feels like it has been dominated by the Bucks … because it largely has. Milwaukee has yet to lose two consecutive games and has not lost to the same team twice, just yet. Those impressive facts along with Giannis Antetokounmpo's drive to solidify his MVP case lead me to believe the Bucks will not lose any steam for the remaining 25 games of the season.

Carlan Gay (@TheCarlanGay): The Raptors have the easiest remaining schedule in the NBA based on their opponents' winning percentage. The longest remaining road trip they have is three games and they no longer have to go out to the west coast time zone.

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Sure Not Now

All of those are schedule wins and give them a great chance of closing in on the Bucks for first place in the Eastern Conference.

I think the Raptors do indeed catch the Bucks and claim home-court advantage throughout the entire playoffs. With Kawhi Leonard easing back into full health, 23 games of Marc Gasol and Jeremy Lin before the playoffs and Nick Nurse - who, by the way, isn't getting the credit he deserves for what he's done so far this season - Toronto should and will claim the one seed in the East.

Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles): I'm on the same page as Gil - I think the Raptors will finish second behind the Bucks.

While the Raptors have the easiest remaining schedule, the Bucks aren't far behind them. According to Tankathon, the combined winning percentage of their opponents is 47.2 percent compared to 45.0 percent for the Raptors. That gives them the fifth-easiest remaining schedule in the league.

The Bucks do have more back-to-backs than the Raptors, but they play three very winable games on the second night of three of their five remaining back-to-backs. Even if they lose the other two, having a one game lead and owning the tiebreaker should give them enough of a cushion to finish with the better record.

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