Sports Raptors are ready for another long playoff grind

04:37  12 april  2017
04:37  12 april  2017 Source:   Toronto Star

Bored Kyle Lowry still doesn’t have a date for his Raptors return

  Bored Kyle Lowry still doesn’t have a date for his Raptors return INDIANAPOLIS—Kyle Lowry is doing basketball things, which is better than him not doing basketball things, but it doesn’t mean a return to active duty is next.The Toronto Raptors point guard, five weeks removed from surgery on his right wrist, hasn’t put a timetable on his return but it will have to come soon if he’s going to get any on-court action in before the NBA playoffs begin.Lowry has already ruled out playing here on Tuesday night against the Pacers, which leaves one week and four games for him to participate in.

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To order presentation- ready copies of Toronto Star content for distribution to colleagues, clients or customers, or The Raptors ’ best player had laboured through the opening two games of the playoffs looking either worn down by the season’s long grind or weighed down by the pressure of the moment.

Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry isn't concerned who his team's opponent will be. © Carlos Osorio Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry isn't concerned who his team's opponent will be. "We just gotta go play."

CLEVELAND—They know what’s in front of them, the pitfalls and the pressure and the pain, but the Toronto Raptors also know the NBA playoffs are about them rather than who they play or when.

A veteran team with a core that remembers well the grind of last spring has to take care of its own business first and foremost.

“We play it out and whatever happens, happens,” point guard Kyle Lowry said. “Don’t care about who we play, where we play. We just gotta go play.”

Heading into the penultimate night of the regular season on Tuesday, the Raptors were still unsure who they will meet when the best-of-seven first round begins on the weekend. There had been some culling of the herd — it’s down the Milwaukee Bucks and Indiana Pacers — but that truly is of little consideration to the players and coaches.

Raptors will play Milwaukee Bucks in 1st round of NBA playoffs

  Raptors will play Milwaukee Bucks in 1st round of NBA playoffs The Toronto Raptors will face the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the NBA playoffs. The Raptors, locked into the third seed in the Eastern Conference, were assured of the matchup with the sixth-place Bucks after Atlanta secured the fifth seed with a 103-76 win on Tuesday.The Raptors, locked into the third seed in the Eastern Conference, were assured of the matchup with the sixth-place Bucks after Atlanta secured the fifth seed with a 103-76 win on Tuesday.

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What are the Raptors already doing and what small steps do they need to continue taking to ready themselves for the playoffs ? With this in mind, it appears that the coaching staff and team have already shifted their focus from the consistent, dominating grind of the regular season to more

The “when” of the series remains a mystery, too. The only thing that can be known with any level of certainty is that Game 2 will be Tuesday night at the Air Canada Centre, in between Toronto Maple Leafs games on Monday and Wednesday. Whether the series opens Saturday won’t be clear until the league releases the full post-season schedule late Wednesday night.

When they know what’s in front of them, the Raptors can get ready for a grind they remember from a 20-game post-season in 2016. And the lessons learned in a drive to the conference finals.

“The adversity, how hard it really is to get to that point,” DeMar DeRozan recalled. “If you have never been to that point you really don’t understand how hard it really is. We faced that in every single round we was in. We had two seven game series, we played Cleveland six games and lost to them and it was rough, so we learned the hard way.”

Raptors beat Cavaliers in regular season finale

  Raptors beat Cavaliers in regular season finale Raptors beat Cavaliers in regular season finaleCLEVELAND — They staggered to the finish line, falling flat and looking nothing like champions.

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Share. Tweet. Share. Share. Email. This weekend the NBA Playoffs tip- off , and for the first time in forever the Raptors will be participating. The club has put together what has arguably been their best regular ever, notching a franchise-best 48 wins (and counting)

The Raptors are expected to use all their regular players here in Wednesday’s season finale, although that’s always subject to change. Coach Dwane Casey has been adamant for weeks he feels the team needs the rhythm of games to stay sharp rather than full nights off. He may deploy the likes of DeRozan, Lowry, Jonas Valanciunas and Serge Ibaka for limited time but they should all play a bit.

DeRozan, for one, feels entirely rested anyway.

“I got rest when I went out with the ankle, I missed a few games and that helped me get back on my feet where I wanted to be,” he said, referring to a six-game, injury-induced January absence.

“You can’t really think about rest right now, it’s all about the real deal right now.”

The Cavaliers, meanwhile, are taking the exact opposite track. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving sat out a Monday loss in Miami and Cleveland reports say James will take Wednesday off as well. Irving’s availability is unclear, as is that of Tristan Thompson, who has missed three games with a thumb injury.

The Raptors, meanwhile, are mindful that the grind of the playoffs is as much mental and physical, regardless of what transpires in Game 82 on Wednesday.

“Climbing up that mountain top you gotta definitely be locked in every step of the way,” DeRozan said. “Understanding it’s not going to be an easy way out. There are going to be road bumps and it’s going to be tough, but understanding how to fight through it, how to get through it and take it game by game.”

Leafs Nation draining dollars, fans from Raptors, Jays .
Toronto Raptors fan Victor Anjos didn't think it'd be hard to find takers for his extra NBA playoff tickets. But he also wasn't counting on the Toronto Maple Leafs making their own playoff run, a rare feat that has electrified the city and ensnared casual sports fans into the fold of a reinvigorated Leafs Nation.

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