The Toronto Raptors complete a home and home series with the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday when they welcome their Atlantic Division rival to the Air Canada Centre.
Toronto has won five in a row to move to within a game and a half of the Boston Celtics in the Division and in the process have become the hottest team in the Eastern Conference with a 9-1 record over their last ten outings.
Thursday DeMar DeRozan was on fire for the visitors as the former USC star lit up the 76ers for 45 points on 13-of-21 from the floor including 6-of-9 from long range.
DeRozan was also 13-of-15 from the line and was ably supported by Kyle Lowry who added a further 23 points.
Tuesday the Raptors are in Dallas to take on the Mavericks before concluding their brief two-game road swing in Oklahoma City against the Thunder.
Despite their position in the Division and the Conference, Toronto has generally struggled when stepping up in class.
A victory over the Houston Rockets is offset by defeats to the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs and the Celtics with the Raptors yet to play the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Warriors, Spurs and Cavaliers are all on the agenda in the month of January with the next match up against Boston in early February.
Indeed the game against Golden State will mark the half way of the campaign for Toronto and will be a good opportunity for the Raptors to evaluate whether they are truly contenders or mere pretenders.
Toronto are 5000.00 to win the Eastern Conference this season and 5000.00 for NBA Finals glory.
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