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Pace of competitive Raptors practices picks up as trash talk fills empty gym

Trash talk has become the soundtrack of Toronto Raptors practices at Walt Disney World.

Four months after the NBA was forced to shut down due to COVID-19, the Raptors are making up for lost time with their fierce fight at practice.

“Practices have been super, super competitive,” said Patrick McCaw. “A lot of trash talk, a lot of guys going at it, just pushing each other. We’ve been away from each other for two or three months, so guys are excited to see each other but also excited to play.

Coach Nick Nurse wasn’t quite sure what to expected in this unprecedented situation. He’s been satisfied with his players’ feistiness.

“There’s a lot of juice in there, a lot of juice in the building, and high spirits,” Nurse stated after Thursday’s practice at Disney, where courts have been laid down in a massive convention hall.

Norm Powell, the unofficial leader of the second unit, said the younger players have been pushing the veterans hard.

“Man, we’re competing,” Powell said. “I was actually really happy and excited the way the younger guys were getting Fred [VanVleet] and Kyle [Lowry] and Pascal [Siakam] worked up, taking their intensity level even higher. The games have been really good when we’re getting after it in our in-team scrimmages and things like that.”

The Raptors were second in the Eastern Conference when the league shuttered on March 11, and that was despite having a revolving door of a roster due to several injuries to key players. The Raptors were fifth in the league in games lost to injury.

The Raptors could be at Disney World for the next three months if they go deep into the playoffs. The team has tried to make them feel at home, and most recently decorated their floor of the hotel.

There’s large “We The North” banners on players’ doors, and a huge photo of the Toronto skyline decorates one wall of the hallway.

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