Game Preview: Raptors vs. Warriors

Holly MacKenzie - Raptors.com

The Raptors return to Toronto after dropping a close 121-117 decision to the Cleveland Cavaliers where the Golden State Warriors are waiting. The Warriors come to Toronto with an 8-2 record after defeating the Phoenix Suns 133-120on Sunday night. While Toronto was in Cleveland taking on the Cavaliers, the Warriors were arriving in Toronto and holding an evening practice session in advance of Wednesday's game.

Tip-off: 8:00 P.M. ET

Broadcast Info: TSN / SN590

TALKING POINTS

Lessons learned

Prior to Toronto’s game in Cleveland, DeMar DeRozan was asked about the team’s Eastern Conference Finals matchup against the Cavaliers last May. After falling to Cleveland in six games, DeRozan re-signed with the Raptors in July and spent the rest of his summer training with Team USA alongside teammate Kyle Lowry before going to Rio and winning a gold medal in the Olympics.

He credits his playoffs run with helping to teach this Raptors team about what is necessary to win. More than just the playoffs run from a season ago, DeRozan also pointed to the painful four-game sweep at the hands of the Washington Wizards in 2015.

“Even two years ago when we got swept, that gave us a very valuable lesson,” DeRozan said. “Understanding how hard we have to work, the preparation, everything that we have to do just to get back to this point and go beyond it. Last year, it hurt so bad, getting to the Eastern Conference [Finals], knowing you were two games away from the Finals, [then it] knocks you right back down to reality, understanding okay, this is what we’ve got to do and how we’ve got to do it if we want to be a better team.”

Up for the challenge

There isn’t any team in the league that looks forward to a back-to-back, but a road game against the Cavaliers followed by a home game against the Warriors back-to-back is a little extra shot of difficult. Still, the Raptors are embracing the challenge.

“As a competitor you look forward to it,” DeRozan said. “It’s something you look at and you can’t wait to test yourself. You’re playing against the two teams that were in the Finals last year. It doesn’t get any better than that this early in the season.”

After dropping a close decision against the Cavaliers, the Raptors are returning to Toronto to shake off Tuesday’s game and move their focus ahead to Wednesday without getting caught up in calibre of opponents.

“For us it’s just another back-to-back of the season,” Lowry said. “It just happens to be with two of the best teams in the league.”

Raptors vets talk importance of preparation

With experience comes knowledge. After making it to the Eastern Conference Finals a season ago, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry spent much of their offseason together with Team USA preparing for the Rio Olympics. During that time, they also picked the brains of the USA coaching staff, as well as the rest of the Team USA roster. Thanks to their time with the national team and the rigours of going through a playoff run that extended their season to the end of May, the duo is more conscientious than ever before about taking care of their bodies.

DeRozan has started the season on a tear, leading the league in scoring. He has frequently mentioned the importance of taking care of things away from the floor so he’s able to give his best effort each night.

“It’s everything,” DeRozan said. “100 percent. If you want to go out and perform the way that you should, that you want to, you have to eat right, take care of your body, because it’s a long season. It’s a very long season. You’re going to have your ups and downs. You’ve got to be as best prepared as possible.”

Lowry, the eldest player on Toronto’s roster at 30 years of age, stressed the importance of the little things when it comes to maintaining form throughout an 82-game regular season.

“It’s always a priority for me,” Lowry said. “I take care of my body offseason, [as well as] during the season. The minutes that we’re playing, we prepare our bodies for that, we prepare our minds for that, and we know what we have to do. Taking care of your body is a big thing. Finding ways to get extra rest in, make sure you get your treatment, ice, having time to relax is very important throughout this type of season.”

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