The Toronto Raptors’ preparation for the upcoming season restart is now in full swing, with the team now inside the Disney World bubble. The Raptors recently held their first official practice inside the isolated venue, and according to guard Fred VanVleet, they all kind of felt like schoolboys again.
VanVleet shared how their first experience was like with Josh Lewenberg of TSN via videoconference:
“It felt good,” VanVleet said. “It’s been awhile. I think you saw some rust, some excitement and that first day of school type of thing for everybody, coaches and players. It was good. We’ve got to flush some things out these next couple of weeks and get ready to play, but kind of take a marathon approach. We’ve still got a long way to go.”
That’s one way of putting it. Attending your first practice after a lengthy layoff is nothing new for these Raptors players, but the recent pandemic has made things unusual, to say the least. It will surely require a lot of getting used to, but at the end of the day, the players should be able to manage.
For Toronto star Pascal Siakam, it’s just all about their desire to play again — and win.
“We just wanna play,” said Siakam. “Everyone is excited about playing. That’s what you wanna see. You wanna see people wanting to play. It gets a little intense every time you get on the floor. It doesn’t matter how long you [were] off, once you get on that floor, the competitive spirit comes out and everyone wants to win, and that’s what you wanna see from a team.”
The Raptors have been one of the biggest surprise packages of the season, entering the hiatus with a 46-18 record for second place in the Eastern Conference. The defending champs have emerged as one of the dark horses to upset the heavily-favored Milwaukee Bucks in the East.