The Toronto Raptors may play four of their next five games on the road, but they have their own home court on their minds.
The Atlantic Division-leading Raptors continue their push for home-court advantage in the playoffs and try for a rare win at the Verizon Center when they visit the first-place Washington Wizards on Friday.
Toronto (39-32) currently owns the third seed and the Southeast Division-leading Wizards (38-32) are fourth in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, but neither team is guaranteed of getting home-court advantage in a potential playoff series.
These division leaders are battling with fifth-seeded Chicago and sixth-seeded Miami for better overall records and the right to host the first two games of a playoff series.
The Raptors took a step toward opening the postseason at home with a 96-83 victory over the Heat on Wednesday.
“We want to get home court. It’s great being division champions and getting the four seed, but at the end of the day you don’t have that home-court advantage,” said Chris Bosh, who had 13 points and 18 rebounds. “With all the guys inexperienced in the playoffs, including me, I think we should try to kick it off at home.”
Toronto is 26-10 at home and just 13-22 on the road this season, and comes into this contest having lost four its last five away from the Air Canada Centre.
The Wizards, meanwhile, have won five of their last six at the Verizon Center and are 26-9 at home this season. That’s not good news for Toronto, which has been outscored by 15.5 points in losing its last six visits to Washington since an 89-86 victory on March 4, 2003.
The Raptors gave up their most points of the season and were outrebounded 49-27 in a 129-109 defeat at Washington on March 6. Bosh matched a season low with just one rebound in that loss, but did manage to score 25 points. The two-time All-Star is averaging 28.6 points in his last five games against the Wizards.
Gilbert Arenas scored 25 points and made all five of his 3-point attempts in the win over the Raptors earlier this month. He is averaging 31.4 points on 18-of-37 (48.6 percent) shooting from beyond the arc in his last five games against Toronto.
Washington defeated Philadelphia 111-108 on Wednesday, and coupled with Toronto’s win over Miami, the Wizards were able to take a half-game lead over the Heat in the Southeast.
“Toronto did us a favor tonight and beat Miami, and we were fortunate enough to get a win,” forward Antawn Jamison said. “Now we just have to continue to play well and hope Miami gets some losses.”
The duo helped shoulder the scoring load in the second half while Arenas went without a field goal for nearly 20 minutes. Arenas finished with 20 points and two assists on Wednesday after averaging 33.3 points and 7.5 assists in his last four games.
Toronto has won two of three meetings with Washington this season, and will be trying to take the season series for the first time since 2002-03.