Rasho a real pro

FRANK ZICARELLI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:51 AM ET

Raptors centre Rasho Nesterovic will be making his 10th post-season appearance in this, his 10th NBA season.

While Chris Bosh deservedly gets all the attention on the team, Nesterovic is having a breakout year and shows no signs of slowing down.

In his past seven games, the classy big man has scored 20 or more points four times.

"I don't even know who this guys is," head coach Sam Mitchell said as he continues to marvel at Nesterovic's professionalism and preparation.

It's no secret that Mitchell will have Nesterovic matched up against Dwight Howard when the opening-round playoff series tips off in Orlando, likely on Sunday.

"I think we match up well against them," Nesterovic said of the Magic. "Rebounding and small mistakes are going to decide the games."

When the Raptors lost their first-round playoff series to New Jersey last spring, Nesterovic played a total of 71 minutes. Coming off a game-high 42-minute performance on Monday, Nesterovic will get considerably less minutes tonight in a meaningless game in Chicago, but he's expected to get extended time when the post-season begins.

DROPPING THE BALL

For the record, Howard made his post-season debut last spring when Orlando was swept in the opening round by the Detroit Pistons. Howard scored 29 points and hauled down 17 rebounds in Game 4.

TIES TO TORONTO

Familiar faces in Brendan Malone and Carlos Arroyo loom as the prelude to the post-season continues.

Malone was coach of the expansion Raptors in 1995 and serves as an assistant coach to Stan Van Gundy.

Arroyo appeared in 17 games in 2001 when Lenny Wilkens coached the Raptors.


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