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Blogtable: Will Boston Celtics or Toronto Raptors nab No. 1 seed in Eastern Conference?

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With roughly one week to go in 2017-18, who gets the No. 1 seed in the East: the Toronto Raptors or Boston Celtics? Please explain your answer.

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Steve Aschburner:  Toronto, in what comes down to a choice between the Raptors’ late-season swoon (dropping five of their past eight) vs. the Celtics’ injury issues. Wrapping up on the road at Detroit and at Miami is no bargain, but Toronto could have things settled by then, assuming it takes care of home court — which is what this is all about — against the Celtics Wednesday night. I’d be less bullish on the Raptors, of course, if they had any more games left against LeBron and the Cavs, who appear to have set up shop again in the Toronto team’s heads.

Tas Melas:  Raptors. They control their own destiny (unlike Boston), they are fully healthy (unlike Boston), and I don’t think they have come this far to lose the No. 1 seed (which they could capture for the first time in their history). Although Toronto has a tougher schedule the rest of the way, I don’t see them losing to Boston twice in five days, and if the Raptors beat Boston tonight, they’ll own the tiebreaker due to conference record

Shaun Powell:  Given the injury issues and a two-game deficit as of Tuesday night, it doesn’t look great for the Celtics despite their stronger than expected flourish here at the tape. So let’s give it to Toronto by a whisker. The real question: In that scenario, does the Raptors’ Dwane Casey, who’s had no injuries, deserve Coach of the Year over Brad Stevens?

John Schuhmann:  Picking Boston would mean picking Boston to win in Toronto on Wednesday. That would give them the tiebreaker and they could pick up another game after that, with one fewer game against good teams (the Raptors play Indiana and Miami, the Celtics play Washington) and one fewer road game remaining on the schedule. But I’ll give the edge to the Raptors at home on Wednesday, with both teams playing the second game of a back-to-back and the Celtics being shorthanded. Then we wait to see who wins Cavs-Sixers in Philadelphia on Friday and which one of these teams would potentially face Cleveland in the conference semifinals.

Sekou Smith:  Toronto. And I think this is more about the Raptors holding on more than anything else. Whatever confidence they inspired earlier this season has waned a bit recently, losses to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers and to the feisty Celtics in their last six games has to sting even the most ardent of the Raptors’ robust fan base. Their performance of late has certainly made me nervous for them. But a three-game home stand (tonight against Boston, Friday against Indiana and Sunday against Orlando) provides the Raptors a perfect opportunity to secure their position atop the Eastern Conference standings. Their destiny is in their own hands. All they have to do is finish.

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Will Toronto win the Eastern Conference title this season?

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Report: Pau Gasol to join Trail Blazers

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Free agent center Pau Gasol has agreed to a one-year deal with the Portland Trail Blazers, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Gasol, 39, who was limited to just 30 games last season because of a variety of injuries, has career averages of 17.0 points and 9.2 rebounds over 17 NBA seasons.



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Report: Furkan Korkmaz returning to 76ers

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Free agent forward Furkan Korkmaz has agreed to a two-year contract to return to the Philadelphia 76ers, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Free agent forward Furkan Korkmaz has agreed to a two-year contract to return to the Philadelphia 76ers, agent Mike Lindeman of Excel Sports tells ESPN.

Korkmaz, 21, brings back a rotational forward with the ability to spread the floor with his shooting. The loss of JJ Redick in free agency – and Kyle Korver’s decision to choose Milwaukee over Philadelphia – brought some increased urgency to keep Korkmaz on the Sixers roster.

 The 21-year-old Korkmaz, who was the 26th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, averaged 5.8 points and 2.2 rebounds in 14.1 minutes last season.

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Report: Kevin Love to withdraw from World Cup

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Cavaliers forward Kevin Love is the latest player expected to withdraw from Team USA’s training camp for the FIBA World Cup, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

This news comes just one day after Damian Lillard reportedly withdrew from the World Cup. Love, who played in just 22 games last season because of a shoulder injury, averaged 17.0 points and 10.9 rebounds in 2018-19.

During the previous two weeks, James Harden, Anthony Davis, Eric Gordon, Zion Williamson and CJ McCollum reportedly decided not to compete in the World Cup this year.

Although the guard ranks will be somewhat depleted of NBA stars, Team USA continues to have a deep pool of players available.



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