After missing 21 games, DeMar DeRozan returns to Toronto lineup

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The Toronto Raptors started the season 13-3 and looking like a real threat in the East.

Then DeMar DeRozan went down with torn tendon in his groin — it’s as painful as it sounds and it’s not quick to heal. He missed 21 games, and while the Raptors went a respectable 12-9 without him they were not the same team, including losing five of their last six.

Wednesday night against the Sixers DeRozan was back. In fact he stepped right back into the starting lineup. He was even the Raptors’ leading scorer in the first half, putting up seven points on 3-of-5 shooting.

DeRozan averaged a team high 19.4 points and 4.2 rebounds in those first 16 games and adds another real scoring threat to one of the NBA’s top offenses. Plus, he’s a solid defender.

The Raptors need him to secure a top four seed in the East, have home court advantage in the first round and advance past that to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2001.