Onward and upward

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:48 AM ET

There hasn't been any particularly magical about the Raptors this season. Nevertheless, Toronto's NBA entry has come up with a magic number for making the playoffs.

According to forward Morris Peterson, the Raptors have set a goal to finish their final 29 games at 20-9, including last night's game against Vince Carter and the New Jersey Nets.

LOFTY GOAL

If the Raptors can meet that rather far-fetched goal, their record at the end of the regular season would be 41-41. The first-place team in the weak Atlantic Division is guaranteed a playoff spot and leading the pack heading into the final stretch of the regular season are the Boston Celtics, a club sitting at .500 (26-26) after last night's 104-95 loss to the Los Angles Lakers. Toronto is currently five games back.

"We have to take one game at a time and believe in ourselves," Peterson said, following yesterday morning's shootaround at the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, N.J. "I think a lot of people have counted us out, a lot of people are saying we can't do it. But if we believe we can do, I believe that's a step (in the right direction)."

Head coach Sam Mitchell believes his squad is ripe for a long win streak as they've been in pretty well every game this season, save for three or four.

"For the most part we've given ourselves a chance to win," he said. "We just have to continue to work and try to get better defensively. And if we can maintain what we've done offensively and bring more defence to the table, we'll be okay.

"We have 29 big games left and that's got to be our approach," Mitchell added. "We have to fight and scratch and claw, that's what we have to do.

"We still haven't put together a streak like that just about every other team in the NBA," the coach said. "Our longest win streak has been three games. Now is the time you need one of those six-seven-eight game-winning streaks. And it's possible. And I remind our team all the time" 'yeah you look at who we've lost to, but you also have to look at some of the teams that we beat, some pretty good teams.' "


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