TORONTO -- To prepare his players for the biggest game of their lives, Raptors coach Dwane Casey borrowed from the 2011 NBA champion Dallas Mavericks. "I go back to my experience. (Mavericks coach) Rick Carlisle has a thing, Wipe off the blackboard. Just wipe it off," said Casey, an assistant under Carlisle on that 2011 Mavs squad. "Nothing on the blackboard is really going to make a difference at this time of year. At this game, Game 7, its mental." The Raptors host the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday in a game that will either advance them into the second round of the post-season for just the second time in the franchises 19-year history, or send them home. Sundays winner faces the two-time NBA defending champion Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals beginning Tuesday in Miami. By wiping the blackboard, Casey trusts the Raptors that have scraped and clawed to so many huge wins in this unexpected season of success wont go down without a fight Sunday. The coach likens his team to Freddie Krueger -- the unkillable villain from "A Nightmare on Elm Street" movies and a name Casey has mentioned after virtually every unlikely victory this season. "Its our approach," Casey said Saturday. "Its our toughness. Its our persistence on getting open. Our persistence in defending. Our persistence in going for loose balls, rebounds. Thats what this game is going to be about." Casey had the Raptors at the Air Canada Centre for a long session Saturday, the morning after a woeful 97-83 loss to the Nets in Game 6 at Brooklyn. In a series that has been feisty since before the first ball was even thrown up, Nets centre Andray Blatche fired the latest shot Saturday night. "We guarantee were going to go there and take care of business and go to Miami," Blatche told reporters at Barclays Center. The Raptors shrugged off the comment. "I dont care what he said," said Raptors all-star DeMar DeRozan. "He can say what he wants, honestly. He can go out there and say hes going to hit the lottery tomorrow, I could give a hell." Raptors backup guard Greivis Vasquez added: "I dont know who does he think he is. Hes not KG (Kevin Garnett) or Paul Pierce or Jason Kidd. Were not going to listen to his nonsense. Hes gotta earn that, and he hasnt yet." Vasquez said the Raptors are focused only on themselves, and with good reason. They could have closed out the series Friday night, but instead slogged out to their worst opening quarter of the series Saturday night, and trailed by as much as 26 points. Once again, Casey showed his players video footage of the bouncing and cheering mass of fans that turned out to watch the game at Maple Leaf Square. "This is what youre playing for," Casey told them. While the vastly-inexperienced Raptors battled nerves early on in the quarter-final series, Casey would have liked to have seen some Friday night. "I wanted nerves in the first quarter because we came out like we were in never-never-land," the coach said. "We want the passion. We want the feelings. I dont mind nerves because a couple of times up and down the floor you get hit, you get knocked down, those nerves go away. "Weve just got to come out with a stronger constitution out of the locker-room." DeRozan, who has shone in his first-ever play appearance, said theres more pressure on the Nets. Brooklyn assembled a star-studded squad with its sights set on an NBA title, signing all-stars Pierce and Garnett in the off-season. "Yeah, man. We aint got no 100 million, whatever payroll they got," DeRozan said -- the figure is actually US$180 million-plus with payroll and taxes. "Hey, thats all on them. At the end of the day they have more to lose than us." The Raptors know that this season will be considered a success even if they dont make it to the second round. They were all but written off when the season began, and played to the low expectations until the blockbuster seven-player deal in December that sent Rudy Gay to Sacramento. The turnaround was remarkable. They went on to win their second Atlantic Division title, earning the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. The players -- the majority of whom had little to no playoff experience when this series began -- are soaking up every moment of their post-season run. "Honestly, this is what you live for, man -- to play and be in moments like this, honestly, because they last forever," DeRozan said. "Memories like that are going to last way after Im finished playing so youve definitely got to take advantage of it and understand youve got to go out there and play youre A-game." Vasquez was asked how exciting it is to play a Game 7 at home. "See, thats the best question," he replied. "Thats the best question. Were in a position right now to really make a solid push and then shut everybody up. You dont have to talk about our experience or anything like that, were going to get it done. "This is what you dream about. Thats when you go play at the park, you think about Game 7 against those guys. Its just fun." Chuck Hayes, acquired in the Sacramento trade, has played in two Game 7s with the Houston Rockets. The Rockets lost them both, and he talked to the team about playing with that win-or-go-home urgency and energy. "You should be exhausted by the time the game is over with," Hayes said. "You should be exhausted every timeout because the intensity is going to be risen, the atmosphere, everything. You probably wont even be able to hear yourself think. Its a fun experience though." DeRozan, who likes to go to the Air Canada Centre to shoot baskets late at night, said he planned to head home after practice Saturday and have a nap. Hed then watch Friday nights Game 6 again, and "get mentally ready for (Sunday)." Vasquez, a father of two children, said he would spend Saturday night relaxing with his family to take his mind off the game. "I dont really like thinking about the game, like Ahhh, putting so much pressure on myself," he said. "I think when you relax and let the game come to you -- obviously, you focus, you get your rest, you watch other NBA games -- thats the way I do it. "Im not going to lie, its a big game. Ive been in a Game 7 before to go in the conference finals and that was one of the best experiences I ever had. And (Sunday), I know for sure its going to be the best game of my life." Cheap Yeezys For Sale
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