Toronto Raptors, old and new, were all over Dallas at this weekends All-Star Game. There were plenty of reasons to smile if you were a Raptor fan. First came Demar Derozan, easily earning a spot into the Dunk contest at the first ever NBA Dunk-In. He finished second in the competition using two of the more creative dunks we saw during the event.
Sunday, of course, Chris Bosh was front and Centre for the East team hitting one of the highlight dunks of night and the two free throws to secure victory for the East side. He was a strong candidate for All-Star MVP in front of his hometown fans.
But these aren’t the only reasons Raptor fans should be smiling.
This break comes at a time when the Toronto Raptors are playing some of their best basketball and are vying for a top-four seed in the Eastern Conference. They’ve scored 100+ points in 10 straight games, have won 8 in a row at home and have a very favourable schedule down the stretch.
Not only that, but don’t look now, they are 4 games back of the “mighty” Celtics.
Raptors All-Star Chris Bosh is a big part of the turn-around as are ‘young guns Demar Derozan and Sonny Weems (who was also on hand in Dallas). The Raptors are using a combination of youth and experience to win ball games this season. Chris Bosh is providing the leadership and dependable hands down the stretch. He is a teacher and mentor for the younger players on the team. A role he played this weekend in Dallas, showing Weems and Derozan around.
The All-Star Break is a time for players to reflect on the accomplishments so far this season and a time to focus on the task ahead of them; earning a playoff spot and, ideally, home court advantage.
Home Court would present the Raptors with a huge advantage in any playoff series. The Raptors are one of the most efficient teams on home court and have been gaining confidence with their recent run of wins at the ACC.
The Break has been a fun learning experience for Weems and Derozan who have been able to ‘hang’ with the Elite of the NBA. An experience that may prove beneficial as the Raptors finish out the season.
Derozan may be teaching his Raptor mentor, Bosh, a thing or two as well. Bosh joked after the dunk contest, “I’ve watched him do some stuff, but…that little between-the-legs thing, about five years ago nobody could do it, now he made me think I can do it. I might try it , you never know.”
He didn’t, by the way. But there were plenty of jokes and smiles this weekend in Dallas.
And why not? There is plenty to smile about if you’re a Raptors fan.
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***Kristoffer Pedlar The Zan Tabak Herald