Chris Bosh felt a bit like a vegetable when the Raptors opened up the regular season in the Garden State last week.
Against the New Jersey Nets at the Continental Airlines Arena on Nov. 1, Bosh managed just 14 points and five rebounds in 25 minutes as the Raptors dropped the opener, 102-92 -- numbers that made the 2005-06 NBA all-star blush and the front office mandarins reach for the worry beads.
Since then, Bosh has averaged 15 boards and 25 points in his past three games.
Head coach Sam Mitchell called the Jersey game a much-needed wakeup call for his star power forward and a rather big relief for himself, because if the Raps have any chance of being competitive this season, they need big games from Bosh.
"I felt the Jersey game was a good, hard slap in the face for Chris," Mitchell said. "That game reminded him to continue to get better. You have to work, and Chris is a worker. But not only do you have to work, you have to be focused and you have to come with that effort every night and every day. And the best thing that ever happened to him was having that happen to him the first game of the season."
In his defence, Bosh was subpar against the Nets more because he had missed three pre-season games as a result of a sore left heel and also was forced to skip practices.
"I wasn't where I wanted to be mentally or physically in that game," Bosh admitted. "I didn't really know what to expect. I hadn't played much prior to that, so I was just kind of going into the game blind. But after that, I kind of reassessed myself and just came in and started working hard and building my confidence back up."
Despite the plantar fasciitis in his left heel, Bosh seems to be back in all-star form and credits the fact that he has been fresher late in games as a result of the increased depth on the bench this season.
Last year, Bosh often played right through the second half or fourth quarter because Mitchell didn't have a lot of options on the bench. As a result, Bosh was often worn out in the fourth quarter, and in overtime. That was quite obvious, as the Raptors went a dismal 1-9 in OT.
This year, Mitchell expects big newcomers Jorge Garbajosa and Kris Humphries to come off the bench and give the team quality minutes and keep the Raptors in the game until Bosh is ready to come in and help wrap things up.
In the dramatic 106-104 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers at the Air Canada Centre on Wednesday night, an energized Bosh nailed a 32-foot jump shot with 6.1 seconds on the board to give the Raps the win.
"Garbo and Kris Humphries came in and gave us real good minutes and I was able to sit down and rest instead of playing the whole second half like times last year," Bosh said of Wednesday's affair. "So when I came into the game, I had a lot more energy. I was ready to go and I could run up and down the court a little bit faster and get more quality minutes."
The Raptors play host to the surprising Atlanta Hawks (3-1) tonight at the ACC before departing on a 11-day, five-game west coast swing, beginning in Sacramento on Sunday.