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Raptors’ DeMar DeRozan okay with calling matchup with Cavs a rivalry

DeMar DeRozan

The Toronto Raptors are set to welcome the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Air Canada Centre for the second round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs. As most hoops fans know, these are two teams that have become increasingly familiar with one another in recent seasons.

In fact, the Cavs and Raptors have locked horns in the Playoffs in each of the last three seasons. Now, with a new series on the horizon, DeMar DeRozan seems to be just fine with calling the matchup a rivalry.

“They’ve stopped us from getting to our goal over these years,” DeRozan said during Tuesday’s media availability, referring to the Cavs. “If you’re not frustrated with that, and that don’t bring that extra energy from within us…

“I know for a fact that our crowd is definitely gonna be in it and have that same energy,” DeRozan continued. “So, for sure, if that’s what it takes for us to get past it by calling it a rivalry, hell, why not?”

The Raptors have been on a roll for much of this season. The team reached the 120-point mark on an Eastern Conference-best 24 occasions this season, including twice against the Cavs. Furthermore, Toronto was the first team to secure a spot in this season’s playoffs.

DeRozan, now 28 years of age, has been the focal point of Toronto’s success this season. In his 80 appearances with the Raptors during their 2017-18 regular season campaign, the former 9th overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft racked up averages of 23.0 points on 45.6 percent shooting from the field (31.2 percent from beyond the arc), 5.2 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 33.9 minutes per game. Without question, the Raptors will need DeRozan to be efficient against the Cavs.

Tuesday night’s Game 1 matchup is set to tip inside the Air Canada Centre at 8:00 p.m. EST with TNT having live broadcast coverage. Let’s see how this edition of the rivalry shapes up.