Bosh sidelined

FRANK ZICARELLI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:15 AM ET

They no longer will be able to go to their go-to guy or feed the post.

For at least the next three games, the Raptors won't have the luxury of watching Chris Bosh create mismatches and help defend the paint.

With the team exercising caution -- and in many ways it's the prudent thing to do -- the Raptors will not have their franchise player and three-time all-star in the lineup for the coming three-game trip, beginning with tonight's contest in Charlotte.

Bosh left Friday's game against the visiting Indiana Pacers when he felt discomfort in his right knee, the same knee he tweaked in a game against Indianapolis on Monday.

When the Raptors gathered for practice yesterday, the team said the swelling in Bosh's knee remained, but no additional change was noticed.

Officially, Bosh's status is listed as day-to-day, but the short-term plan is for Bosh to get plenty of rest, unless something dramatic happens that forces the Raptors to change their thinking.

He'll accompany the team on its trip, which will have the Raptors heading to Florida for back-to-back games against the Magic and Heat.

Assuming they play with any level of defensive intensity and avoid playing down to the level of their opposition, there's no reason to expect the Raptors to lose to the likes of the Bobcats or the ongoing laughingstock that is Miami.

At the same time, recent history has shown the Raptors the fate that befalls them when the opposition is allowed to get far too many open looks as was the case against the undermanned Pacers.

Having hopefully learned from that lesson and previous letdowns against the Knicks and Clippers, the Raptors must now step up in Bosh's absence, a point of emphasis head coach Sam Mitchell broached with his team yesterday.

"Everybody wants to play and we understand that as coaches,'' Mitchell said. "Everybody cries and complains about minutes and then they come.

"Now is the time. At the end of the day, it's always going to come off my lap and back into the players' lap.

"Now, it's in their lap."

Rasho Nesterovic will start in Bosh's place in a move that comes as no surprise. Andrea Bargnani will get more touches, but the second-year power forward/centre must avoid Friday's performance when he attempted 25 shots from the field and didn't make a single trip to the foul line.

In one of those mysteries that continues to go unsolved, Bargnani has yet to figure out that he can get off his shot virtually any time he wants.

The key is to take more high-percentage opportunities, attack the basket by using his ability to put the ball on the floor and draw fouls.

Bargnani must also rebound and defend better, now that Bosh is out.

Kris Humphries and Joey Graham, two seldom-used players, will also be asked to step up, a message Mitchell conveyed to both. He'll soon find out if his words were taken to heart.


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