Raptors want victory in final pre-season tune-up

The Toronto Raptors hope a change in the usual schedule translates into a victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves Friday night.

In preparation for the neutral site game, to be played in Sioux Falls, S.D., (7 p.m. ET), the squad broke from its training camp routine – practice, shootaround, game – Tuesday and went bowling instead.

This schedule has withstood the test of time mainly due to the fact it suits the players.

“The schedule? It’s fine,” Chris Bosh told the Toronto Star. “No sense messing with it.”

The changes to a schedule don’t sit well with players. Toronto tried it two seasons ago under Sam Mitchell, moving shootaround to 4 p.m. instead of 10 a.m. at the Air Canada Centre.

“I didn’t like it, not at all,” Bosh said. “I don’t like being at the gym for an extended period of time. I don’t like that sitting around and I don’t like that idle time. I like to get in and do my job.”

Toronto finished second (41-41) in the Atlantic Division and made the playoffs, but lost in the first round.

While Rasho Nesterovic isn’t a fan of changing the schedule, he likes to have a routine.

“For me, personally, I like to come in the morning before the game to have shootaround just because you don’t want to stay too long in the bed, to be in bed until 11 or 12 o’clock doesn’t make sense,” he said.

Raptors head coach Jay Triano used bowling as a team building exercise.

“We need to build some trust and chemistry among each other,” said Triano, who had planned the outing a couple of weeks ago.

“With an NBA team, it’s tough to find time when they’re together off the court. This was one way we could get them together.”

Friday marks Toronto’s second trip to the mid-west to play the Timberwolves this pre-season. On Oct. 9, the Raptors beat Minnesota 112-97 to earn  their first win.

Since then, they have only won once in four tries. It also marks Toronto’s final tune-up before it starts playing the games for real.

The Raptors lift the curtain on the 2009-10 season on Oct. 28 against the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Air Canada Centre (7 p.m. ET)