The Toronto Raptors snapped a long playoff drought last season, only to lose in the first round. While they seem to be a lock to make the postseason again, their recent play suggests another early exit.

The Raptors, who have been struggling for the past month, can secure a playoff spot as they conclude their season series with the lowly Charlotte Bobcats on Friday night.

Toronto went 47-35 in 2006-07 to finish atop the Atlantic Division, but lost to New Jersey in its first playoff appearance in five years. The Raptors can get into the postseason again with a win over Charlotte (28-47) or if New Jersey and Indiana lose on Friday.

But Toronto is hardly playing like a team poised to make a strong playoff run. The Raptors have lost two of three and 13 of their last 19.

Home-court advantage is likely out of reach for Toronto, which would have a hard time catching fourth-place Cleveland in the Eastern Conference. The Raptors, in a tie with Philadelphia and Washington, could finish as low as seventh.

Toronto let a game slip away on Wednesday, leading by as many as 17 points in the third quarter before losing 127-120 in overtime to Atlanta.

The Raptors, though, beat the Bobcats 104-100 on Monday, and are 2-1 against them this season. Toronto is 10-3 all-time versus Charlotte, including a 5-1 mark at home.

Raptors forward Chris Bosh had 32 points Monday, and followed that by scoring 24 versus the Hawks. He's averaging 26.5 points in his last four games.

T.J. Ford added 23 points and 13 assists against Atlanta. The fourth-year point guard has been in the starting lineup in each of Toronto's last five games, averaging 14.4 points and 8.8 assists.

Ford has taken back the starting role from Jose Calderon. Both players, however, have been effective running the offense.

They will be matched up against Charlotte's Raymond Felton, who is averaging 14.1 points and 7.2 assists a contest. Felton was held to nine points on 3-of-13 shooting, but contributed nine assists in the Bobcats' 118-114 loss to Cleveland on Wednesday night.

Felton also struggled Monday, finishing with 10 points on 2-of-10 shooting after averaging 20.5 points in his previous two games.

Despite Felton's performance, Charlotte shot 53.1 percent (43-for-81) against the Cavaliers. But the Bobcats lost their second straight game amid questions of rookie coach Sam Vincent's future.

Charlotte part-owner Michael Jordan hasn't said if Vincent will return next season. The Bobcats have failed to make the playoffs in each of their four seasons since their inception.

"We want to finish up the season strong. We want to build on getting better as a team and getting ready for next year," Charlotte leading scorer Jason Richardson said.

He had 31 points versus the Cavaliers, and is averaging 27.3 in his last six contests. That includes a 26-point performance against Toronto on Monday.


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