Nucleus excites Bosh

STEVE BUFFERY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:11 AM ET

Raptors forward Chris Bosh believes that because of the age of the key players on the team, qualifying for the playoffs this year will be the start of great things for the team.

Bosh, a two-time all-star, is 23, and starting point guard T.J. Ford is 24. Both are under contract for at least the next three years, while forward Andrea Bargnani, a rookie-of-the-year candidate, is 21.

"I think this is a good starting point for us," Bosh said. "This is such a good feeling, because we have nine new players and we have so much room to get better. We're young and we're pretty much strangers in the league right now so I think once we continue to get to know each other, as the years go by, I think we can be more dominate in the league."

Bosh was named Eastern Conference player of the week yesterday after averaging 22.3 points and 14.8 rebounds, along with four double-doubles. It's the third time in his career he has received the award.

CHAIRMEN OF THE BOARDS

The Raptors miss the scoring and defence provided by the injured Jorge Garbajosa (displaced left ankle joint) and the offence off the bench from Bargnani (appendectomy), but the added minutes given to forwards Kris Humphries and Joey Graham has been a boon in the rebounding department.

In the past six games the Raptors are averaging 48 rebounds, which puts them near the top of the NBA. It's impressive, considering the Raptors couldn't rebound to save their lives for most the season. Humphries has averaged eight rebounds in the past three games while Graham has averaged 6.5 rebounds in his past four.

"They're a little bit more physical than other guys and they're two of the strongest guys on the team," Bosh said. "They love going to get the ball, they love that battle. They help us a lot on the boards because they know that's what they have to do to keep playing."

Bosh, who is averaging 10.6 rebounds overall, has averaged 14.7 rebounds in his past four games.

AROUND THE RIM

Bargnani, who had his appendix removed on March 21, will join his teammates for the first two games of this week's trip, in Miami and Orlando, and then fly home on Thursday to consult with a doctor. If he is given a green light, the rookie forward will start full contact practices this weekend and could play Sunday against the Chicago Bulls.


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