Tough road ahead

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:41 AM ET

DALLAS -- Tis the season to be weary, for the Toronto Raptors.

Having just completed a November from hell, where the squad opened with nine road games, including four in a row on a west coast trip, as compared to only six at home, the Raptors face an even more difficult month ahead.

The month of December is anything but jolly for the Raptors, with 10 road games, and another four-game west coast swing, which are killers for Eastern Conference teams.

But all the 5-10 Raptors can do is grin and bear it and dream of easier days ahead, which will begin in January when they play 10 games at the friendly confines of the Air Canada Centre and only five on the road.

"We've been on the road a lot, we've been travelling a lot, and we got a home game (tonight) and we will try to get our energy up," said head coach Sam Mitchell. "And then hopefully when the schedule turns in our favour a little bit, when we get more home games, we can (get on a roll)."

"We just have to suck it up and play through this," he added.

The Raptors look at this week as a golden opportunity to get some wins under their belt before the team jet gets reeved up again in a big way next week. Although no one with the organization is making any official pronouncements, the feeling is that three of the four games this week are winable.

Toronto opened the week with a win in Oklahoma City and, predictably, lost to the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night.

HOPING FOR TWO

Now, with the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks on the horizon tonight and tomorrow, the Raptors are hoping for two straight victories. Next week, it's back on the road for two games against two tough teams, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Chicago Bulls.

"It's a pretty important week for us," acknowledged forward Chris Bosh, who picked up 18 points and 11 rebounds in Toronto's 117-98 loss to Dallas. "We got the Knicks, we got the Celtics, two Atlantic teams we're playing this week, two winable games."

Veteran point guard Darrick Martin said that the demanding schedule has been an eye-opener for many of the young players on the team.

"We still have guys who are learning what it means to play in this league, how to deal with back-to-backs, how to deal with four games in five nights, but we're getting better," said Martin, adding that this is the toughest start to an NBA season he has ever experienced.

"I don't think I've been part of a team that has gone on two west coast trips at such an early part of the season. But it is what it is. We're going to make the best of it and come out and compete."


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