The Toronto Raptors have clinched the No. 1 spot in the Eastern Conference, won the Atlantic Division title, and broken their franchise record for regular-season wins.
Serge Ibaka scored 25 points to lift the Raptors to their historic 92-73 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Friday, Toronto’s 57th win of the season, and 33rd at the Air Canada Centre. Both topped the previous records set in the 2015-16 season. The Raptors (57-22) have three games left of the regular season.
DeMar DeRozan added 12 points, while Jakob Poeltl finished with 10, and Kyle Lowry doled out nine assists.
Glenn Robinson had 12 points, Trevor Booker finished 11 points, and Canadian and former Raptors guard Cory Joseph scored six off the bench for the Pacers (47-33).
Playing in their Drake-inspired black and gold OVO jerseys, the Raptors led from the opening tipoff and, other than a second-quarter blip when they allowed the Pacers to pull within four points, they dominated for most of the night in front of a capacity Air Canada Centre crowd that included Drake.
They pulled away in the third quarter thanks largely to Ibaka, who shot a perfect 5-for-5 _ including a pair of three-pointers _ that put the Raptors ahead by 27 points. They took a 72-49 lead into the fourth.
The sizable lead allowed coach Dwane Casey to go to his bench for the final frame, allowing the starters some much-appreciated rest before the Raptors embark on their fifth consecutive post-season, which begins April 14.
A pair of Robinson threes midway through the fourth pulled the Pacers to within 17, but the visitors couldn’t put a significant dent in Toronto’s lead. As the clock ticked down the final seconds, the ACC crowd stood and applauded the Raptors’ regular-season record.
The Raptors’ magic number on the night was one _ either a Toronto win or Boston loss Friday clinched them the No. 1 seed, and home court for the duration of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
A solid defensive effort saw the Raptors hold Indy to 22 per cent shooting in the first quarter and, when Poeltl scored on a reverse layup with less than a minute to go, Toronto went ahead by 17 points. The Raptors took a 26-14 lead into the second quarter.
The Pacers cut Toronto’s lead to just four points with a 10-0 run midway through the second, but a three by Lowry capped a mini Raptors run that sent them into halftime up 45-33.
The Raptors host Orlando on Sunday in their last regular season home game.