CLEVELAND -- Raptors coach Sam Mitchell allowed himself the luxury of looking ahead in the season.
Mitchell, who hates using the NBA schedule as an excuse, said last night following Toronto's 95-91 loss to the Cavaliers that he expects his team to play .500 once the schedule turns in Toronto's favour in the new year.
The 7-11 Raptors have three more weeks of tough travel and, after that, the situation improves dramatically.
"We've got another road game Friday (in Chicago) one game at home, and then we go back for two (Miami and Orlando next week), and then we come home for two and then we go back out west (for four)," he said. "I think over the course of the season, if we stick to (our game plan), try to keep teams off the free throw line, out of the paint, make them shoot contested shots, I think we'll win more than we lose."
In January, the Raptors play 10 home games as opposed to five on the road, and there are no more killer west coast trips.
"We're growing as a team, we're getting better," Mitchell added. "Three weeks ago, we couldn't have come here (Cleveland) and played that well. But you have to be in the game the last five minutes to have a chance to win on the road. And we were against a good basketball team (last night).
"I'm disappointed that we lost, but the effort, the execution, it's hard to fault our guys."
Chris Bosh agreed with his coach's assessment on the season, adding that if there was ever such a thing as a good loss, last night's contest against the Cavaliers was one.
"We lost, but our effort was good, our defence was good," Bosh said. "We've been playing a lot of games on the road. We're still getting to know one another. If you look at all the things that we have to overcome, late in the season, I think we're going to be where we want to be."
Bosh's goal for this season is to make the playoffs.