Bring on the Magic

Raptors' Chris Bosh drives to the basket against the Heat on Monday. SUN MEDIA/Dave Thomas

Raptors' Chris Bosh drives to the basket against the Heat on Monday. SUN MEDIA/Dave Thomas

FRANK ZICARELLI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:19 AM ET

Toronto's Magic moment arrived when Devin Brown buried two clutch free throws to cap a controversial ending in Philadelphia.

And so begins the Raptors' playoff run, which became official last night moments after Toronto picked up its game in the second half to beat the visiting Miami Heat 91-75.

About 20 heart-stopping minutes later, Brown basically set the table for the Eastern Conference playoffs in helping the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the host 76ers 91-90.

More experience?

"Now we know," exhaled Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell after watching Brown's heroics unfold on television. "The good thing is we know who we're playing."

The Orlando Magic will play host to the best-of-seven series this weekend after earning the No. 3 slot.

The Raptors will finish in the sixth hole and will begin as underdogs against a Magic team that went 2-1 against Toronto, including 2-0 at home.

"Record-wise, (Orlando) is a better basketball team," Mitchell conceded. "They've earned the right to have the third seed.

"We have a tough climb for us."

The one edge Toronto has on the Magic is playoff experience, having been to the post-season last year.

Chris Bosh abused the Magic in Orlando's only visit to Toronto and with Rasho Nesterovic emerging as a big-time player of late, the Raptors might just be able to handle the physical presence Dwight Howard will bring as he makes his post-season debut.

Mitchell admits no amount of counsel could prepare any player for the post-season, which demands that every single individual on the court play with urgency on every single possession.

In the wake of Toronto's six-game exit to the New Jersey Nets last spring, Bosh, for one, admitted he had no idea what post-season basketball entailed.

"You try to tell players, but they don't really believe you," Mitchell said. "This time around, they'll be more at ease."

Philly will be matched up against the playoff-tested Detroit Pistons, the No. 1 seed Boston Celtics will battle the Atlanta Hawks, while the Cavs and LeBron James have earned home-court advantage in their first-round series with the Washington Wizards.

The Raptors close out the regular season tomorrow night in Chicago, where Mitchell said he'll split up his minutes for his starters and reserves.

The Raptors, who trailed the woeful Heat after the first and second quarters, have been hoping for an Orlando matchup and they'll get their wish.

A date with Detroit would have certainly spelled an early start to the off-season, but now there's hope of playing into the second round.

What the Raptors have to do is play at a high level for the entire 48 minutes.

Even against sub-standard teams such as the Heat, the Raptors have too many lapses, something that must be corrected by this weekend.

On paper, the Raptors have a huge advantage over the Magic at the point position with T.J. Ford and Jose Calderon, but Toronto's perimeter defence will be tested.


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