Raptors playing better

Guard Jarrett Jack picked up the slack when fellow guard Jose Calderon went down with an injury....

Guard Jarrett Jack picked up the slack when fellow guard Jose Calderon went down with an injury. (REUTERS/Kevin Kolczynski)

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 10:07 AM ET

PHILADELPHIA — The Raptors are justifiably feeling good about themselves, but at the same time they realize that being good simply isn’t good enough.

The team enters Friday’s very winnable tip against the Philadelphia 76ers having won seven of its past eight games to climb to the .500 level.

The Raptors survived a three-game stretch against Boston, San Antonio and Orlando by going 2-1.

Jose Calderon is back and healthy, and Andrea Bargnani is disproving his legion of doubters who felt the perimeter-happy power forward turned centre couldn’t defend the post.

As strong as they’ve looked at times, the Raptors acknowledge the work that lies ahead in cleaning up areas that will ultimately help define this team.

To a man, the Raptors know the schedule has been favourable.

“Our confidence is good right now," Hedo Turkoglu said. “It is still not where we need it to be, but we are .500 and looking forward to getting better.”

Mental toughness remains a concern, an area that is bound to improve once former 76ers power forward Reggie Evans is able to suit up in a regular-season game, which now seems more likely to be after next month’s all-star break.

While the game officials didn’t do them any favours against the Magic, the Raptors must find a way of not fouling with so much regularity.

Head coach Jay Triano is absolutely right when he says his team must find a way to defend without fouling.

Off night

When they beat the Magic 108-103 on Wednesday, the Raptors survived a fourth-quarter scare and overcame an off night from Chris Bosh, who normally carries the team.

Shortly after the final buzzer, Triano and Bosh shared a moment.

“Chris didn’t have one of his better games," Triano said of Bosh, who had as many turnovers as made shots from the field (six). “We survived that and I said that to him.”

It’s not often Bosh posts consecutive off-nights.

He’ll get matched up, in all likelihood, against Thaddeus Young tonight, a matchup that favours Bosh.

The Raptors should beat a Sixers team that is flawed and in search of an identity.

Then comes a home date against a Celtics team that has had Toronto’s number.

Much like Orlando, which won all three of its previous three season-series meetings, the Raptors are due.

“Obviously we’re improving because we’re winning games, but we know we have to get better,’’ Bargnani said.

“We’re not trying to be a good team. We’re trying to get to the level where we’re a very good team.”

Psychologically, having a winning record can only fuel the team’s building confidence.

“We know we are a better team than .500,: Bosh said. “We just have to get over that hump.”

Getting Calderon to play at a high level can only help Toronto’s chances.

“We’re playing much better," Calderon, who had eight assists and turned the ball over once in 25 minutes in his return on Wednesday, said. “We know we can win. We’re becoming a more confident team.”


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