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Raptors Aim To Keep Eyes On Knicks, Not Scoreboard

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Video: Triano | Weems | Johnson | Game In Six: TOR vs. DET, April 12
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Jay Satur - raptors.com

April 14, 2010

Must-see TV on Tuesday's usually features the ongoing tale of fate vs. control on the hit series LOST. But last night, Sonny Weems was experiencing that philosophical battle in a much more personal way down the dial as the Chicago Bulls battled the Boston Celtics for their playoff lives.

“Yeah, I watched the whole game,” Weems of Chicago’s 101-93 victory over a Boston club with little at stake. “I really don’t watch whole games in the NBA, but I watched that game. Obviously Boston couldn’t take care of it so we’ve just got to take care of what’s in front of us.”

What’s in front of the Raptors now is simple. They face a must-win scenario at ACC tonight against the Knicks with the Bulls holding the ability to simply win and get in with a victory in Charlotte against the Bobcats.

For his part, head coach Jay Triano isn’t as concerned about his team’s performance as he is with the out of town scores inevitably flashing throughout the ACC.

“I think that’s the one thing we have to fight against,” Triano following shootaround. “I think you’ll be looking up there but there’s one thing we can control and that’s what's in front of us and that’s our game. We have to stay focused on that and give ourselves every opportunity. We do that by taking care of business in front of us. If we do that, then you can go and you can scoreboard watch after that.”

It’s an unenviable position to require help to get in, but this is a corner the Raptors have backed into themselves by winning just 10 of their last 29 since the All-Star Break. The Bulls meanwhile, have surged to win nine of their last 13 games to put themselves in the driver’s seat.

Injuries have been a factor for both clubs as they fumble towards a date with the Cavaliers in Round One. Most notably, Chris Bosh has missed a sizable chunk of post-All-Star games due to an ankle injury and more recently with facial fractures.

The forward remains ineligible for Wednesday’s tilt, but gave his team a boost by meeting with them at shootaround and is expected to be courtside at game time.

“Everybody’s mood changed when he walked into the building,” said Weems. “He had a little band aid on his nose, but he looked like he’s doing fine. I wish we could have had him for these last couple games, but we have to play without him.”

Weems, who has stepped up since his insertion in the starting lineup for DeMar DeRozan, was also in jeopardy of missing Wednesday’s pivotal tilt after suffering an ankle injury in Monday’s win over Detroit, but declared himself ready and will get the start.

The inclusion of Weems has become crucial for a club already hampered by the absence of veteran Antoine Wright, who continues to have difficulty walking as a result of an ankle sprain and won’t go.

With the lineup from Wednesday’s 101-93 road win over the Pistons intact, the Raptors aim to duplicate an effort that saw Andrea Bargnani explode for 33 points and Amir Johnson record a career-best 26-point night. Triano envisions a similar strategy playing out tonight.

“Amir’s ability to roll to the basket and finish meant that they (the Pistons) had to help with somebody,” said Triano. “I think Andrea as we’ve seen, feeds off other people. It’s tough to run isolations for him -- although against this team (Knicks) we think we can do it.”

For the Knicks, Wilson Chandler (groin), Eddy Curry (calf), Al Harrington (right shoulder) and Tracy McGrady (left knee) are all expected to sit.

It all tips off at 8 p.m. on theScore and the FAN590. Raptors.com will have you covered with live chats beginning at 6 p.m. followed by extensive post-game coverage.