Newspaper article The Canadian Press

DeRozan's 38 Points Leads Raptors Past Heat 96-94 as Toronto Preps for Playoffs

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

DeRozan's 38 Points Leads Raptors Past Heat 96-94 as Toronto Preps for Playoffs

Article excerpt

DeRozan leads Raptors past Heat 96-94

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TORONTO - After eight seasons in the NBA, DeMar DeRozan knows that the playoffs require more than just nailing down the Xs and Os of the playbook. He's going to use the final two games of the Toronto Raptors' regular season to get himself ready on every level.

"Emotionally, spiritually, physically, locked in completely," said DeRozan on Friday night. "And understand that it gets real after these next two games."

DeRozan certainly looked ready in the Raptors' 96-94 win over the Miami Heat, scoring 38 points to go with six rebounds in Toronto's last home game of the regular season. He broke Vince Carter's franchise record with his 31st 30-point game of the season.

The Raptors final two games are on Sunday in New York against the Knicks and Wednesday in Cleveland. Toronto's opponent in the first round of the playoffs is still to be determined. There are five possible teams as the Eastern Conference's final standings shake out: Atlanta, Milwaukee, Chicago, Indiana and Miami.

"Come next weekend, it's a whole different dynamic of basketball," said DeRozan. "That's the best part of the year, that's what you work for, to be playing late April, going into May and so on.

"When you're a competitor, you look forward to it."

Although the Knicks are well out of the post-season picture, the Heat provided a real test for the Raptors and closing out the regular season against the Cavaliers will also give Toronto a taste of playoff basketball.

"Continue what we're doing, continue to focus, being physically and mentally ready for the speed of the game, the physicality of the game. The way I thought we were tonight," said head coach Dwane Casey on what his Raptors have to do to prepare. "These are great situations for us. We don't have practice time, there's not a lot of time to really work on things.

"Fortunately/unfortunately, the games are our practices."

Canadian point guard Cory Joseph came off the bench with 14 points and three assists for Toronto (49-31), which cut the idle Boston Celtics lead in the Atlantic Division to 1 1/2 games. Kyle Lowry had 12 points, six assists and seven rebounds in his first game back in Toronto since wrist surgery on March 1 forced him to miss 18 games. …

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