Raptors finally able to use full squad

MIKE KOREEN, TORONTO SUN

, Last Updated: 8:18 AM ET

When public address announcer Herbie Kuhn introduces "your Toronto Raptors" today, he will really mean it.

For the first time since Dec. 6, every player on the roster is expected to be healthy -- not including Pape Sow, who has been out all season with a back injury -- when the Raptors play host to the Washington Wizards at the Air Canada Centre.

T.J. Ford (sprained right ankle) and Jorge Garbajosa (sore right calf) both practised yesterday and are hoping to play today after missing the past three and two games, respectively.

"It will be a pretty good feeling to have everybody in," said Raptors all-star forward Chris Bosh, who has played the past two games after missing the previous 12 with a bruised left knee. "We haven't had everybody in at the same time since we've been playing a little bit better. I mean, just with the couple of new plays we have, it will be real interesting to see how everybody responds to each other."

Since Dec. 6, Bosh, Ford, Garbajosa, Morris Peterson, Fred Jones and Jose Calderon all have missed games with injuries. Still, the Raptors have remained competitive, going 7-8 during that time frame to stay in the heart of the race for the Atlantic Division title.

While Raptors coach Sam Mitchell was giddy at the prospect of a full lineup earlier this week, he is keeping his enthusiasm in check this time around.

"We play at 1 p.m., (today)," Mitchell said when asked how Ford and Garbajosa performed in practice. "They looked all right. We won't know until they play."

CAUSING PROBLEMS

Whatever the case, the Raptors clearly have developed into a team that can cause problems with its size.

Seven-footer Rasho Nesterovic has established himself as a firm starter, while Garbajosa, at 6-foot-9, likely will be the third-biggest starter on the court behind the 6-foot-10 Bosh.

Add the rapidly improving Andrea Bargnani, a 7-footer, to the mix, and you have a formula that can cause matchup problems.

"We're getting used to it, we're going to take advantage of our size and a lot of the things we can do," Bosh said. "Garbo, he can guard guys out on the perimeter and he can rebound. With his ability and me and Rasho out there, I think we can really cause a lot of trouble for the other team."

The game today concludes a three-game homest and for the Raptors, who embark on a three-game trip to New Jersey, Milwaukee and Boston later this week.


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