TORONTO - Its been a while since the Raptors could genuinel

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TORONTO - Its been a while since the Raptors could genuinel

Notapor blueberryjerry » Lun Ene 23, 2017 9:27 am

TORONTO - Its been a while since the Raptors could genuinely speak about a meaningful game in February but Dwane Casey is not just blowing smoke when he stresses the importance of Wednesdays showdown with Atlanta, his teams final game before All-Star weekend. Tedy Bruschi Jersey . "Its huge," Casey said of Torontos matchup with the fifth-place Hawks, who sit 1.5 games behind the Raptors for third place in the Eastern Conference. "Its not like in the past where games dont matter. In the past we were building, getting guys experience. Now the games matter." Toronto will go into the break with at least 27 wins for the first time since the 2009-10 campaign and could pad its cushion over Atlanta in the standings with a victory on Wednesday. TSN 1050s Josh Lewenberg and Duane Watson took a look at the importance of Wednesdays tilt at home to Atlanta and finishing the first half of the season strong in this weeks edition of the Raptors Report podcast. Generally, this is one of those games - the one just before All-Star - that coaches fear most, and for good reason. Its just one of 82 and its easy to look past if youre headed to New Orleans for this weekends festivities or eagerly awaiting time off with family and friends. NBA players are only human after all. Perhaps that would be the case against an inferior opponent, a trap game of sorts, but this years unofficial finale to the first half of the season has a different feel and the mentality going into it reflects a new level of focus. "(We have to) make sure we take care of business before we go on the break," Casey said following a light practice on Tuesday. "(Weve) been talking about that now for the last week or so and we didnt do a good job on the West Coast trip of closing out. Weve got one more game before the break and we dont want to take the break before it starts." His troops seem to have bought in. "Before anything else weve got to care of business (Wednesday) against a team were going back and forth with at our spot in the Eastern Conference," said DeMar DeRozan, Torontos representative in Sundays All-Star Game. "Weve got to take advantage of (Wednesdays) game on our home floor and go into the break feeling good." Despite dropping three of five games on the road last week, the Raptors have an opportunity to go into the five-day layoff with some momentum, coming off a 108-101 win over the Pelicans at home Monday. Meanwhile, the Hawks are backing into the break having lost four straight, most recently falling 100-85 to the Bulls, who leapfrogged them for fourth place with the win. Atlanta has failed to break 90 points in three of its last three games, scoring 86.5 over that stretch after averaging 116.5 in the previous four contests, winning three. "Theyre definitely a team of runs, that can get real streaky on you fast," said DeRozan, who scored 31 points in Torontos 102-95 road loss to the Hawks on Nov. 1, the second game of the season. "So weve got to take all that out the game from the start and not give them (any) hope and take care of business from the get go." Hawks centre Al Horford had 22 points and 16 rebounds in the first meeting but has since been lost for the season after undergoing surgery on a torn pectoral muscle. Paul Millsap - who will join DeRozan as a first-time all-star in the East this weekend - has stepped up in Horfords place, averaging a career-best 17.7 points to go along with 8.4 rebounds, already knocking down more threes this season (46) than he had in his previous seven combined. "Hes another example of a guy who has developed his game (and) brought something back to the table every year," Casey said of the Hawks forward. "Hes made some threes in his career in Utah but now hes a consistent three-point shooter. Hes self-made and thats what you respect about Millsap." Certainly you cannot talk about the Hawks and their three-point shooting without mentioning one of the most impressive, albeit under the radar streaks in professional sports right now. With two treys in Tuesdays loss, Kyle Korver extended his historic run of consecutive games with at least one made three-pointer to 119. He broke Dana Barros old record of 89 straight games back in December and is shooting the three-ball at a 46 per cent clip on the season, third best in the NBA. His accomplishment - and the threat it represents - has not gone unnoticed in the Raptors locker room. "Its crazy to do something like that," DeRozan said. "Especially when they know youre a three-point shooter and you scout a guy like that and your whole objective is to run him off the three-point line, make him shoot twos. Hes still knocking down threes, its definitely tough." "Hes a good athlete, its not like hes just a stand still guy," Casey added of Korver. "So were going to have to have a lot of energy to chase him around, to run with him, to move with him and we cant relax because if you lose site of him for a split second its a three-point shot." Three days before defending his Slam Dunk title at All-Star Saturday Night, Terrence Ross should draw the assignment of chasing down Korver, at least initially. As for Millsap, he should see more of a committee at the four-spot, especially if Amir Johnson cant go for the Raptors. Johnson has been nursing an injury to his right ankle since coming down on it in last months win over Orlando. Casey and the coaching staff opted to rest the Raptors ailing warrior in Mondays win - the first game hes missed due to injury in nearly two years - but havent determined his status for Wednesdays contest. Previously it would have made perfect sense to sit him again, extending his rest into and through the break but now, with higher stakes, the decision becomes more difficult. "Hes still sore but were going to see," Casey said. "Right now we need all hands on deck." Chris Hogan Patriots Jersey . -- C.J. Cron hit an RBI single on the first pitch he saw in the major leagues, doubled his second time up and hit a tiebreaking RBI single in the sixth inning to lead the Los Angeles Angels to a 5-3 victory over the Texas Rangers on Saturday night. Tedy Bruschi Patriots Jersey . -- The Toronto Maple Leafs are tightening the race for second place in the Atlantic Division. http://www.patriotsfanaticstores.com/authentic-donald-brown-patriots-jersey/ . His chance at winning a Stanley Cup in Philadelphia is over. Same with Jeff Carter. And Brian Boucher. Throw in Ville Leino and Dan Carcillo.COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Bradley Wright-Phillips continued his hot scoring with the second-half equalizer and the New York Red Bulls rallied to tie Columbus 1-1 on Saturday. He followed a three-goal game in a 4-0 win against Houston on Wednesday with his fifth goal of the season in the 66th minute. He settled a pass from Lloyd Sam on the left side of the box and put a shot through the legs of Crew defender Josh Williams and off the right post. "I ended up getting a good touch on it and getting a good strike on goal because I let two in the first half get away so I wanted to get one on target," Wright-Phillips said. He understands that a goal streak like hes on doesnt come around often. "Two weeks ago that probably would have got blocked and gone the other way on the attack," he said. "Thats how football goes, especially for strikers. We score a few games then you dont.&" Jairo Arrieta gave Columbus (3-1-3) the lead in the 39th minute with his first penalty kick attempt of his three-year Crew career after New York defender Kosuke Kimura fouled Justin Meram. Irving Fryar Jersey. The Red Bulls (2-2-5) are 2-0-1 in their past three games. "Its a very good point for us," Red Bulls coach Mike Petke said. "I was pleased with many aspects of the performance tonight. Obviously, after the first seven minutes we should have been up 2-0. There were two breakaways." The Crew is winless in four (0-1-3) including three straight draws, after opening the season with three consecutive victories under first-year coach Gregg Berhalter. "It was a decent effort," he said. "Heads were down in the locker room after the game because we couldnt close it out; we couldnt get the three points but there were a lot of positives." 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