Vince Carter and Chris Bosh have the weight of the Raptors on their shoulders.
Head coach Sam Mitchell has set some substantial goals for Carter, the club's best swingman, and Bosh, the club's best big man.
"You have to give guys goals," Mitchell said. "I set a goal for Vince. It's our secret. He knows what it is. And I've set one for Chris.
"They're all team things. The individual goals are at the very end, so if we accomplish the team things, those (individual) things should come."
If the Raptors' first team goal is to win a pre-season game against an NBA opponent, the mission has not yet been accomplished. The Raptors are 0-3 in that regard following an 88-85 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers before a crowd of 11,285 at the Air Canada Centre last night.
No one likes to lose all the time, regardless of the circumstances. Thus, the ultra-competitive Mitchell knows he has to keep things in perspective.
"I just have to remind myself to use the pre-season for what it is," Mitchell said. "I want to win every game, but I have to be true to my word, play the guys we need to get a look at, and be patient."
Analyzing the larger picture, Mitchell knows this team will go only as far as Carter and Bosh can take it.
"I think Vince Carter can be one of the best defenders in the league, and there are times when he shows it," Mitchell said.
Others have tried to push Carter, with mixed results.
"The reason people try to get (Carter) to do those things is, he has the talent to do it."
The Raptors have announced time changes for three regular-season home games. The game Sunday, Nov. 7 against the Blazers will start at 12:30 p.m. (formerly 1 p.m.); the game on Sunday, Dec. 19 against the Nets will start at 3 p.m. (formerly 1 p.m.); and the game on Sunday, Jan. 30 against the Suns will start at 4:30 p.m. (formerly 3:30 p.m.).