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Toronto Raptors: The week ahead

It may be the holidays for regular folks, but the NBA schedule never rests, and three games in four nights as the calendar turns is a pretty busy time. With the East so tightly bunched, these have even more importance.

A 2-2 week would be good, going 3-1 would be something special, but a losing week might be costly.

Friday vs. Charlotte, 7:30 p.m.

Ah, the old nemesis, the team that somehow has owned the Raptors for years it seems. There’s no logical reason, it’s just one of those things, but maybe it’s time for Toronto to make a statement.

Sunday vs. Chicago, 3:30 p.m.

If the retinas aren’t still burning after seeing Tony Snell, Aaron Brooks and Bobby Portis light them up Monday night in Chicago, the Raptors might want to remember how they held Jimmy Butler in check.

Monday at Cleveland, 7 p.m.

A bit of a gut-check time because the Cavaliers are sure to be stinging from the memory of dropping a game in Toronto. It led LeBron James to go on a bit of a tirade about his team’s play and he’s likely to be fired up.

Wednesday at Brooklyn, 7:30 p.m.

Back in the day, this might have been intriguing, a couple of playoff and Atlantic Division rivals hooking up for a game with some extra juice. Now? The Nets are borderline awful and due for substantial change.