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A few important takeaways from one big win

All right, I wasn’t at the game but I did see it and talked both during and after to enough people who were to have a pretty good feeling about the night.

Loud, fun, wildly unexpected both within the organization and from outside observers and, as regular season NBA games go, would be one of the best in the ACC in some time.

Not sure where it fits in the grand scheme of things historically – the win over the 72-10 Bulls still ranks No. 1, there was a win out of nowhere over a really great San Antonio team the night before an all-star break when everyone was hurt that stands out – but it would be probably near the top of many lists.

And that’s what regular season games are about, right? Having some kind of long-lasting memory of a good night and a lot of fun watching it.

So, quickly, this:

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Few stats, great game

We’ve seen DeMar DeRozan have some amazing nights so far this season, 52 points, 43 points, 35 points, efficient and all-star worthy, indeed.

The 13-point outing last night was as good as any of them. Maybe even better.

One guy really close to the team told me DeRozan “didn’t get frustrated getting doubled” and his team-high eight assists were critical.

And watching him calmly step into three-pointers and go three-for-five from deep just made him more dangerous. It was a tour de force.

A feeling of belonging

The astonishing edge the Raptors bench had in athleticism was what really stuck out to me. The Cavs look bewildered and slow and totally unprepared for Toronto’s quickness at both ends of the floor.

But the long game is likely to be late May and early June and when the pressure cooker of the playoffs arrives, those kids need to remember what they did and how they did and not be nervous about doing it again.

I don’t think they will step back, I think Dwane will keep running them out in waves because it such an advantage but they’ll need to do what they did last night.

Laura’s got the money quote from Casey in her game story, the one about giving that group confidence and an even greater sense that they belong.

So, what’s it all mean?

It really is just one game in a long, long season and it doesn’t represent any kind of seismic shift in the Eastern Conference balance of power.

It did move Dwane Casey and is staff a big step closer to coaching in the all-star game, though, and that’s a feather in a career cap.

It also laid out a couple of undeniable facts:

What the Raptors are trying to do, they’re doing well and that’s much, much more than just moving the ball and taking more three-pointers.

Watching them switch basically everything on defence with a group of athletes each able to guard multiple positions was impressive and that’s as big an improvement over last year as the shooting and passing.

Casey’s right to temper too much enthusiasm because it’s a step on a long journey that’s not nearly complete but there were enough signs to think it’s at least pretty darn big.

This okay for today?

I hear there’s a ton of rain back home? And it’s going to dip to minus-10 or so tomorrow? Yeah, that’s gonna make for easy driving and I hope whoever out there is controlling the world’s weather is happy with himself.

Okay, we’re doing pretty well on the mail so far but, as you know, there’s always room for more so go on over to askdoug@thestar.ca and let me know what’s on your mind.

Got one thing to write this morning but I can get started on it this afternoon and that’ll help for another busy weekend ahead.

I flew yesterday – you’ll see the results later on today – and the connection was in Detroit and it’s now on my list of very good airports to fly through. Easy going from one terminal to the other if you have to, all kinds of services in the main Terminal A and it’s not too prone to weather hell.

Delta serves it and Delta is my favourite American airline because the on-line check-in is a breeze, you can upgrade to more leg room economically and the people seem to know what they’re doing.

United’s staffed by a lot of miserable people and uses Chicago as a hub and O’Hare is to avoided at all costs; American seems to have the oldest fleet of planes ever assembled and the scheduling seems inconvenient and Southwest, while I hear it’s good, doesn’t fly out of Toronto nor does it serve many cities I go to.

Air Canada? It’s getting better but there’s still a lot of “we’re not happy until you’re not happy” in the way it’s operated. It gets the nod because of all the direct flights I can take out of Toronto but if I have to go on American carriers within the United States, I try to get to Delta.