The Toronto Raptors will see the Houston Rockets on July 24, the Portland Trail Blazers on July 26 and the Phoenix Suns on July 28.
This announcement actually highlights how close we are to the resumption of the NBA season, and also how little time NBA teams entering the bubble will have to prepare for the eight classification games and the post-season.
In this regard, thanks to their special situation as a Canadian team, the Raptors were somewhat advantaged before the team’s trip to the NBA Disney World campus next week, as they successfully organized a camp restart before the bubble in a bubble in Naples, Florida.
This Naples bubble allowed the team, above all, to remain safe in a state where the number of COVID-19 cases exploded and to participate in precious conditioning work before being able to start working 5 against 5 again. As the Raptors forward Serge Ibaka admitted during a conference call on Saturday, “Physically, this is going to take us a little while. ”
Fortunately, the return of the wind seems to be the Raptors’ only concern from a competitive point of view. In terms of their current mental focus, it’s a team that seems locked in and eager to win.
“Mentally, I think we are ready,” said Ibaka. “Mentally as a team, I can see everyone, I think mentally we are ready. We know what awaits us there, now it’s time to get a bit of a game condition and then we’re ready to go. ”
Expanding on this point, Ibaka said he could say that his team was already mentally prepared for the coming battles because of everyone’s attitude at camp.
“I saw how healthy everyone is. They came here in great shape and as soon as we got there, everyone started working, ”said Ibaka. “I have been in the league for 11 years. You can see when people are locked up and they are mentally ready, and when they are not. So I can tell you immediately mentally that everyone is ready. Everybody is ready. ”
It is this self-confidence in the Raptors, described by Ibaka, which explains why the defending champion team has great expectations for itself when entering the restart.
“Everything,” said Ibaka when asked what he thought was the Raptors’ cap. “We believe in ourselves, we have experience, we already have the mentality of a champion, we have confidence. But now it’s time to leave. It is time to go to work and, as I said, we are ready. ”
Ibaka’s confidence in his team also stems from the fact that the Raptors’ number is in good health on restart for the first time almost all season, which he said was “very excited”.
The optimism that Ibaka had when meeting the Raptors on Saturday is something that mirrors all of the other team members who spoke during this pre-bubble camp – and it is an indication of how the team seems to feel good about themselves.
Hearing about the fact that the team is still a little behind in terms of conditioning is naturally disturbing and frustrating for fans of the team. But as Ibaka said, Toronto is a team that seems to be laser focused on the task at hand right now.
The return to fitness is something that will come over time for all teams entering the bubble. However, being mentally prepared is something that may never happen for some teams, and right now the Raptors are already there.