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DeMar DeRozan resumes team activities following brief trip home

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DeRozan was excused from the Raptors’ Thursday practice in order to visit his father, who has been struggling with kidney ailments.

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Brooklyn Nets Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

DeMar DeRozan has returned to the Toronto Raptors on Friday, in time to prepare for a crucial Saturday evening prime-time match-up with the second seeded Boston Celtics. DeRozan was excused from a Thursday practice in order to travel to his hometown Los Angeles to visit his father, Frank DeRozan, who has spent most of the season battling various health issues, the worst of which appears to be a kidney ailment.

DeRozan often publicly speaks fondly of his father Frank, and credited him for his love of sports growing up. The Compton-native ultimately missed just Thursday’s practice, and is back with the team to prepare for Saturday’s match-up with Boston, a game which many are billing as a must-win in order for Toronto to secure the top seed in the East.

In two games against Boston this season, DeRozan is averaging 19.5 points and 5.0 assists per game, while only having to play 29 minutes in a Feb. 6 victory.

The ongoing condition of his father may be weighing heavily on DeRozan as the season comes to a close. Since the All-Star break — which seemed to include a crescendo of stress, culminating in his now famous tweet — the Raptors super-star has sporadically struggled on the court, shooting less than 45 percent from the floor and just 28 percent from long-range.

In his latest game before flying to Los Angeles, at home against Denver, DeRozan looked unlike his usual self throughout and spent the final frame on the bench as he watched the bench unit secure the team’s 55th victory of the season.

Raptors teammates have repeatedly voiced their support for their leader and his unique predicament this season. Even if DeRozan gets the night off on Saturday (his status has yet to be confirmed), having him with the team is a boon for the entire roster.

And part of me believes that having his teammates around has the same effect for Compton’s finest.