Sam to Raps: Get tough

Raptors star Chris Bosh hopes his knee injury clears up enough that he can get into a pre-season...

Raptors star Chris Bosh hopes his knee injury clears up enough that he can get into a pre-season game some time this week. (Sun Media/Greg Henkenhaf)

MIKE GANTER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:10 AM ET

While Sam Mitchell's search for toughness in his locker room continues, Chris Bosh is trying to find a balance between the need to give his sore left knee the time it requires to heal and the urgency to get back in the lineup and work out the kinks before the regular season begins.

Both the Raptors coach and their star player were upbeat yesterday as the team held its first practice on their home court on the third level of the Air Canada Centre since returning on Friday from a two-week training camp in Italy and Spain.

Bosh was evaluated by team medical personnel on Saturday. The swelling and discomfort in the knee he tweaked during a team scrimmage Oct. 3 in Treviso, Italy, has dissipated significantly during the past several days. While Bosh is intent on getting into a game this week, he will continue to be listed as day to day.

So while Bosh's workout was limited to the weight room yesterday, the rest of the Raptors were put through their paces, cleaning up their half-court offence while Mitchell continued to stress the need for more toughness.

"Toughness for me is not going out and throwing illegal picks or elbows," Mitchell said. "Toughness is standing in there and taking charges, setting a pick even though you know the guy may run through the pick. Putting a body on people, stopping the basketball, those are the things we have to get better at doing."

While Mitchell used the word toughness, Bosh spoke of being more aggressive although the latter acknowledged both are talking about the same thing.

"We just have to be more aggressive, under control, but aggressive," Bosh said. "I think we're passive sometimes, we're not aggressive going to the basket. We have to get those easy points going to the free throw line. We settle a lot.

"We have a lot of nice guys so it's easy to be passive. We have to be aggressive on the boards, rebound with a purpose, run with a purpose and try to get to the basket. We know we can shoot jump shots. What we have to do is do a better job of getting to the hole."

Mitchell said he would also like to use the next 16 days before the Oct. 31 season opener against the New Jersey Nets to make his offence a little less dependent on the pick-and-roll. While the pick-and-roll remains the meat of Mitchell's offence, he envisions adding to it to take some stress off his guards.

"What we are trying to do is be more balanced," Mitchell said.

"We'll still run a lot of pick-and-roll this year but we need some other sets to go to. What happens is it puts so much pressure on T.J. (Ford) and Jose (Calderon) because they have the ball every time.

"We would like to have some sets and execute things well enough to where they can come down and initiate the offence and be a part of it instead of being the initiator, the facilitator and sometimes the finisher."

And that doesn't mean just getting the ball inside to Bosh more frequently.

"Not necessarily more post-up but more movements from our twos and threes," Mitchell said.

"They have be more than just spot-up shooters. We need to get those guys to the free-throw line more."


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