Sam Mitchell has spent plenty of time over the past two months talking about how his team could make a run when the schedule turns home friendly.
But now that the docket is doing just that, the Raptors coach is taking the opposite approach.
The Atlantic Division-leading Raptors, who returned to practice last night after a two-day Christmas break, play five of their next six games at home as well as 12 of their next 18, including tonight against the Minnesota Timberwolves. But don't try telling Mitchell to look at the rosy road ahead.
"We've got a game (tonight), that's the only thing we're concerned about," Mitchell said.
"You can't get fooled by it. The schedule means nothing if you're not ready to play. The thing for us is this is our team, this is what we've got. Our guys have been playing hard, playing well. We as coaches are trying to keep them focused at the one game at hand and go from there. You can't get fooled because the schedule has home games, things are going to go in your favour. You've got to go make it happen."
They'll have to make it happen without all-star forward Chris Bosh (bruised left knee), probably for the next three games. Bosh took part in non-contact drills and felt good last night, but he won't play again until he has some contact in practice.
Bosh said last week he was targeting a game in Memphis Saturday against the Grizzlies as a possible return, but changed his tune last night.
"A vet (Darrick Martin) told me don't open up on the road," Bosh said. "You've got to ask him, I don't know why. If a veteran tells me that, I'm going to follow his advice."
The fact the Raptors have three days off after the Memphis date probably is a bigger reason why Bosh may delay his return until a Jan. 3 home game against the Phoenix Suns. Bosh has missed the past nine games.
"I was really looking forward to getting some contact, but they had to slow me down," said Bosh, whose team has gone 5-4 without him. "I just wanted to get a good workout in, get a real good sweat ... The good thing is it's not sore. Hopefully, it won't puff out that much on me. If it does, we'll take care of it. I'm going to keep practising until I can go to contact. As soon as I can get some contact in, I'm good to go."
If Bosh was healthy, he would come in very handy tonight. No one on the Raptors matches up very well with Wolves star Kevin Garnett except Bosh.
"It just may be one of those things where Kevin gets his, and we try not to let anybody else get theirs," Mitchell said. "They've got other guys capable of scoring. One thing about Kevin is if you trap him too much, he gets everybody involved, so you have to be careful about sending people at him because he will give the ball up."