Bosh vs. James may have to wait

Toronto Raptors  T.J. Ford talks with teamamte Chris Bosh during practice Saturday, October 21,...

Toronto Raptors T.J. Ford talks with teamamte Chris Bosh during practice Saturday, October 21, 2006. (Toronto Sun)

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:40 AM ET

It could be slim pickings for hoops fans tonight at the Air Canada Centre.

On paper, the pre-season matchup between the host Raptors and visiting Cleveland Cavaliers is a dream confrontation, pitting two of the NBA's top young stars, Chris Bosh and LeBron James, against one another.

But paper is one thing, reality is another. There's no guarantee either will play.

Bosh is still dealing with an inflammation in the bottom of his left heel and, according to Toronto head coach Sam Mitchell, will be a game-time decision as to whether he will receive any minutes tonight.

James already has missed a number of pre-season games for the Cavaliers, not so much because of injury, but because Cleveland wants the young star rested and ready for the regular season. Both James and Bosh competed for Team USA and the world basketball championship this summer and risk burnout if they don't get plenty of rest prior to the regular season.

The Raps faced the Cavaliers at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester on Wednesday night and fans there understandably were upset when Cleveland coach Mike Brown had James dressed but did not insert him into the game.

That scenario could unfold tonight at the ACC as the Cavaliers played last night in Columbus, Ohio, against the Atlanta Hawks. The Rochester game was also the second game of a back-to-back set.

As for Bosh, the NBA all-star forward played in Toronto's 118-84 victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv on Thursday at the ACC but missed two games and a number of practices before that because of the sore heel. Needless to say, with the regular season opening on Nov. 1 in New Jersey, the Raptors, 5-0 in pre-season action, are going to err on the side of caution when it comes to Bosh.

"Same old, same old. No better, no worse," Bosh said yesterday when asked about his heel.

WON'T PUSH IT

For whatever reason, the laid-back Texan laughed when told that according to the coach, his status for tonight was a game-time decision.

In any event, Bosh said that he will not push it just for the sake of playing in a pre-season game, even if it is against King James and in front of the home fans.

"The games don't count yet, and we're playing well as a unit with or without me, so we'll see," said Bosh, adding that he is hopeful that the injury will not plague him all season as a similar injury bothered San Antonio Spurs star Tim Duncan all of last season.

"I think by the time the season arrives, I'll be ready to go," Bosh said. "All this work we've been putting in on it, the training staff has been doing a pretty good job making me get in early so we can get some work on it and I think it's all going to pay off."

The game tonight has been switched from 1 p.m. to a 6 p.m. tipoff.


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