Technically, the NBA playoffs began seven days ago.
But for the Toronto Raptors, the real test begins this week.
An undermanned Brooklyn Nets team posed very little threat to the defending champions. Not only did the Raptors sweep the Nets out of the NBA bubble, they did so with ease, winning by 24+ points in three of the four games.
The second round won’t be so easy, as the Raptors are matched up against the Boston Celtics, who finished third in the Eastern Conference this season. The Celtics are coming off a four-game sweep of their own against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Making matters potentially more difficult is an ankle injury to Raptors All-Star guard Kyle Lowry. His status for Game 1 is unclear.
The first-ever playoff matchup between these two teams begins on Thursday, according to a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, with exact game times still to be announced.
Toronto-Boston Eastern Conference semifinals series:
Game 1 – Thursday, August 27
Game 2 – Saturday, August 29
Game 3 – Monday, August 31
Game 4 – Wednesday, September 2
Game 5* – Friday, September 4
Game 6* – Sunday, September 6
Game 7* – Tuesday, September 8
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 24, 2020
The NBA is likely waiting on the results of some remaining first-round series before announcing game times. In the Eastern Conference, the Miami Heat (3-0) can complete the sweep of the Indiana Pacers, while the league-leading Milwaukee Bucks (2-1) are expected to get past the Orlando Magic.
The four playoff series in the Western Conference have been closer, with the LA Lakers leading the Portland Trail Blazers 2-1, the LA Clippers tied 2-2 with the Dallas Mavericks, the Denver Nuggets trailing the Utah Jazz 3-1, and the Houston Rockets up 2-1 on the Oklahoma City Thunder.