Raptors living with pains

Raptors coach Sam Mitchell is certain that Chris Bosh, entering his fourth year in the NBA, will...

Raptors coach Sam Mitchell is certain that Chris Bosh, entering his fourth year in the NBA, will have no problem stepping up, even if he's hurting this season. (Toronto Sun File/Ernest Doroszuk)

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:42 AM ET

As much as it pains him to admit it, Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell expects that his big men will have to play hurt this year. Perhaps for the entire season.

The NBA regular season is still one week away (Toronto opens up in New Jersey against the Nets on Nov. 1), but already two forwards, all-star Chris Bosh and rookie Andrea Bargnani, are limping around the court.

Bosh has missed a couple of games in the pre-season because of a sore left heel, and likely will not play tonight in Boston against the Celtics. Bargnani, who turns 21 tomorrow, missed Sunday's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers because of a sore left ankle. Both injuries, Mitchell said may plague the two all season.

"All we can do is treat it and try to rest it when we can, but at some point you still have to get on the floor and learn how to play with it," Mitchell said. "Everybody has to learn to play with some discomfort. That's just how it is."

Mitchell is certain that Bosh, entering his fourth year in the NBA, will have no problem stepping up, even if he's hurting this season. The laid-back Texan already has proven himself to be a warrior on the court.

But it's Bargnani the coach said, who will have to come to terms with the fact that, once the regular season begins, he will never feel totally comfortable on the floor. Big men tend to suffer more aches and pains in their ankles and feet than others. As well, NBA rookies are often taken aback as to how tough the schedule can be.

"At a certain point of the season, no one's going to feel 100%. You just have to learn how to deal with it," Mitchell said, adding that Bargnani's ankle has been bothering him for some time.

"We're trying to be careful with it, but will it ever be 100% this year? Who knows? I don't know. But as long as the doctor tells us there's no structural damage, then he's just going to have to learn how to deal with it. And eventually he will."

As for Bosh, well, the Raptors will need the 6-foot-10 forward on the court regularly if they expect to be competitive this season and Mitchell said finding a healthy balance between playing Bosh and treating the heel will be the key -- even if that means that Bosh has to slow down in practice.

"I'd rather have him a little rusty than hurt. He can play when he's rusty, he can't play when he's hurt," Mitchell said. "Give me Chris Bosh at 90% over no Chris Bosh at all.

"The more we can shut it down and rest it (the better)," Mitchell said of Bosh's heel. "And after every game, stay on it, treat it, treat it, ice it, electric (stimulation), message. We have to be smart."

Bosh is confident that with treatment and rest, his heel will heal sufficiently that he won't think twice of playing.

"I've done it before (played in pain), but I don't plan on playing in any pain," he said. "We're taking precautions now so it won't be serious."

The Raptors are 6-0 in pre-season action (including a win over Maccabi Tel Aviv Elite) and have just two games remaining before the start of the regular season, tonight in Boston and Friday in Chicago against the Bulls.


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