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The Toronto Raptors are taking their high-flying act on the road.

The Raptors (7-1) are a perfect 6-0 at newly christened Scotiabank Arena. It’s the most home victories to start a season in the franchise’s history.

Now, the team is embarking on its first extended trip, a four-game swing through Western Conference territory that begins on Friday night in Phoenix against the Suns. On Sunday, Toronto will be in Los Angeles to face the LeBron James-led Lakers before landing in Utah on Monday to take on the Jazz. Toronto returns to California to conclude its trip against the Sacramento Kings on Nov. 7.

Toronto coach Nick Nurse said while he is looking forward to a change in scenery, geography is the furthest thing from his mind.

“We just want to play, man,” Nurse said following Raptors practice in Toronto on Thursday before heading to the airport.

For past editions of the Raptors, a Western Conference journey such as this would have been a lesson in survival. Toronto’s combined record over a three-year span from 2010-11 through 2012-13 was an unsavoury 28-50 against the west.

But last season, en route to a franchise-best 59 wins, Toronto posted a 19-11 mark against the west, the second-best record of all Eastern Conference teams behind only the Boston Celtics (22-8).

There is no reason to believe that trend won’t continue, given that Phoenix has won only once in seven games. And the Lakers, even with noted Toronto tormentor James in the lineup, have just three wins in eight games.

After that, the competition gets sterner with Utah currently standing at 4-3, while the Kings carried a 5-3 mark into Thursday night’s game in Atlanta against the Hawks.

“It’s time to test what we can do on the road,” Toronto forward Danny Green said. “We haven’t played our best basketball on the road. We haven’t had 100-per-cent health, but still, no excuses.

“Hopefully, we can get some guys to come back and play better basketball on the road. We’ve got to beat teams on the road.”

Backup Toronto guard Fred VanVleet will travel with the team, but his status for Friday’s game is listed as questionable. He is still trying to recover from a left big toe strain that has sidelined him for four successive games.

Toronto will have forward OG Anunoby available. He’s returning to the team after a three-game absence attending to a personal family matter.

With backup point guard Delon Wright finally rounding into shape after battling a groin problem for the first part of the season, Nurse will head out on the road with almost a full roster complement for the first time this season.

“I think it’ll help us a lot,” Nurse said. “I think our second unit has been a little disjointed. Some of that’s my fault, changing it all the time and searching and all that kind of stuff.”

In Wednesday’s 129-117 win over the Philadelphia 76ers, the Raptors played with renewed vigour on the defensive end, holding Philadelphia to less than 42 per cent in shooting while snatching 13 steals, a season best.

Four of those were credited to ball-hawking newcomer Kawhi Leonard, who is looking as solid on defence as he is on offence. The forward totalled 31 points on Wednesday and has scored at least 20 in all six of the games he has played.

Draymond Green of the defending champion Golden State Warriors told Yahoo Sports on Wednesday that, in his opinion, Leonard remains one of the game’s top defensive players.

This is hardly a bolt-of-lightning comment by Green. Leonard, after all, won back-to-back awards as the NBA defensive player of the year in 2014-15 and 2015-16.

“I got mad respect for him [Leonard],” Green said. “But I think I’m the best. If you want my honest opinion, there’s no one in the category with me but Kawhi.”

Kawhi said while he appreciates Green’s opinion on the matter, it is still very early in the season – lots of time to get even better.

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