Time to get serious

MIKE GANTER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:16 AM ET

Sam Mitchell wants to see a little more team togetherness from his Raptors.

The Toronto head coach revealed yesterday that he recently sat down with Chris Bosh and T.J. Ford and tried to instill in them the importance of tightening an already close bond as the playoffs approach.

"We have a lot of guys who have not been through something like this and I find myself having to sit down and have conversations with guys about there being 21 games to go, and being in the position we are, how does this guy approach that," Mitchell said.

"They don't know. It can't be just 'game as usual'. No, when it gets to this stage and you see the position you've put yourself in to do, there are some minor adjustments. You almost have to -- and I hate the term "circle the wagons" because you're not trying to exclude anybody -- but you want to make sure it's all about that team and no one else is allowed in that small circle except the people that travel with you, and the people that are on your team."

Mitchell used his own experiences as a member of those Indiana Pacers playoff teams in 1994 and 1995 as an example of what he meant.

"When I played and we got to this stage in the season and we went back to Atlanta (Mitchell's hometown), instead of going to have dinner with my brother or friends of mine, I would do more things with my teammates," Mitchell said.

He credits Byron Scott, who had come to the Pacers from those championship teams with the L.A. Lakers in the 1993-94 season, as the man who showed him and the rest of the Pacers the extra sacrifices that were necessary to make a long run in the playoffs.

"Byron Scott changed our approach a lot in Indy when he got there," Mitchell said. "I remember we had a team dinner with just the team and the wives and girlfriends and he talked to the wives telling them 'This is what we've played for all year. When you get down to the last 20 games, we've got to be a little selfish. It's got to be all about us. We have to stay focused. I'm not going to be running all over town doing this for the kids. You have to do that.'"


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