With three important games on tap for the Raptors this week, you could understand the temptation to expand the team’s typical “one game at a time” approach to a five-day outlook.
Instead, head coach Dwane Casey is demanding that the team’s focus become even more refined.
“I even talked to the guys about taking it one quarter, one possession at a time, because if you start looking at too many things down the road, you don’t see anything,” Casey said after Tuesday’s practice at ACC. “We want to make sure we take care of business tomorrow night, come in with the same energy we started the game with against Oklahoma City and compete.
“Again, we can’t get too caught up in ‘big picture’, there’s too many games down the road. That’s my way of thinking and I’ve conveyed that to the team.”
Luckily, this space can take a somewhat broader view. The next three games against the Sixers, Bobcats and Bucks — all within the friendly confines of ACC — could prove to be pivotal for a group with a stated goal of playing significant basketball in April.
Win out this week and the Raptors complete their homestand with a successful 4-2 mark and are back on track after a pair of losses cooled off a stretch of eight wins in nine games. Anything less than three wins would have to feel like a missed opportunity and with the official halfway point coming in just over a week, the Raptors can ill afford to rack up too many more of those.
A look at the task ahead this week.
Wednesday vs. 76ers: The Sixers have stumbled into 2013, dropping six games of a recent eight-game road expedition. They’re home for the Nets on Tuesday, before closing out a back-to-back at ACC the following night.
Those are the positives for the Raptors. Conversely, they’ve dropped both previous meetings with the Sixers this season, which has fueled a nasty 0-5 start against Atlantic Division opponents.
Friday vs. Bobcats: The Bobcats have plummeted back to earth after a solid start under new head coach Mike Dunlap, but one of their nine wins on the season has come against the Raptors (albeit in extremely controversial fashion) back on November 21st.
The Raptors lead the all-time series between the two teams (15-13), but Charlotte has been making up some serious ground in recent seasons, with seven wins in the last eight meetings.
Sunday vs. Bucks: Meet another team that’s dominated recent matchups with the Raptors. The Bucks have won seven straight meetings, with the Raptors last win against them coming on January 22, 2010 in Toronto.
But the Bucks are now in flux with the news that head coach Scott Skiles and the team have decided to mutually part ways. Assistant coach Jim Boylan now takes over a team that’s lost four straight games heading into Tuesday’s game against the Suns.
More practice video with Kyle Lowry and Ed Davis below.