Healthy Bosh fuels Raps

Chris Bosh reacts to questions at the end of Raptors practice at the ACC yesterday. SUN...

Chris Bosh reacts to questions at the end of Raptors practice at the ACC yesterday. SUN MEDIA/Michael Peake

FRANK ZICARELLI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:37 AM ET

The pronouncement was both unprovoked and unequivocal.

The body language convincing and the words emphatic.

As the Raptors wrapped up their practice routine yesterday staring into a hectic week of games, the franchise, Chris Bosh, reported all was well with his sensitive groin, an area of concern that was felt throughout the team's roster during his absence.

To say the Raptors are a different team without its most consistent post presence is to state the obvious.

But coming off a 42-minute performance on Sunday in the wake of missing five games, a few team officials were holding their breath as they held court yesterday.

They began to exhale at the sight of Bosh running the floor with abandon in practice and his self-diagnosis in which he states all is well.

"I feel great," Bosh proclaimed. "I wasn't sure how I'd react, but my body feels fine and I'm prepared for the upcoming challenge."

The Raptors tip off a gruelling stretch with their visit to Atlanta tonight, followed by a return home for tomorrow's meeting with Dallas. An away game against the Indiana Pacers looms Friday before a Sunday set-to with the red-hot Boston Celtics.

Then comes the mother of all road trips, a seven-day odyssey that will take the Raptors through Christmas and into the new year.

With Bosh healthy, the immediate outlook doesn't look as gloomy.

Without Bosh, the Raptors barely tread water, rarely do teams come with aggressive double teams, be it on the catch or on the dribble, and seldom is the ball dumped into the post.

When they beat the Houston Rockets 93-80 on Sunday, it was Bosh who demanded double teams, defended the paint and produced his team-leading eighth double-double of the season.

More importantly, a healthy Bosh gives the Raptors a swagger and a more complete identity.

And on a team that relies an awful lot on its jump shooting, Bosh actually gets to the charity stripe. He is by far the most proficient, going to the line an average of 7.6 times a game, and converting 87% of his attempts.

Tonight's game means Bosh returns to his college roots after he spent one season at Georgia Tech.

Above everything else, it's the next opportunity for Bosh to show that he has returned to his all-star form.

"We can't be lazy, lethargic or uncertain," Bosh said in providing a brief game plan of the Raptors' approach against the Hawks. "We have to come out aggressively."

Bosh, in all likelihood, will get matched up against Al Horford, a rookie power forward who will give up a few inches and considerable pro experience.

"This is a big week for us," Bosh said. "We have to start to separate ourselves from teams."

It's a process made less challenging with Bosh in the lineup and healthy again.

Without him during Bosh's recent groin discomfort, the Raptors went 2-3.

During their 47-win season last year, the Raptors went 6-6 when they were minus their franchise player.


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