Bosh adds barking on defence to his many skills

FRANK ZICARELLI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:48 AM ET

ATLANTA -- According to one of life's oldest adages, talk is cheap.

But if you listen to Raptors forward Chris Bosh carefully, there is no price tag when it comes to talking on the court.

Beyond leading the team in points, Bosh has made a late-season vow to be more talkative, a trait that does not fit the normally reserved franchise player.

On a team that is too soft and too perimeter-oriented, the Raptors also are too quiet, which has prompted Bosh to be more vocal.

Offensively, there isn't much to say, assuming players get to their spots on the floor.

It's on defence where communication is as fundamental as keeping your player in front of you.

"Sometimes I catch myself being quiet, but then I have to pick it up and start talking again,'' Bosh said as he leads the Raptors into tonight's tip against the host Hawks.

"I'm not a talker by nature,'' the former Georgia Tech star said. "I know I have to step outside myself because I really like winning and (being vocal) really helps out.

"Whatever it takes, I'll do it."

Bosh stepped up defensively in the Raptors' road win against Charlotte on Monday in ways that went unnoticed in the box score.

They were subtle things such as warning teammates of cross screens and getting back in transition.

With eight games left in the regular season, the Raptors have to find ways to be more consistent on defence, especially when matched up against athletic wing players, which will be the case tonight against an emerging Atlanta team.

Having seen the results of talking more, Bosh's intent is to do more talking.

"It just makes guys more aware,'' he said "Just by calling a cross screen, the guy won't be stood up by a screen and won't be beat back-door.

"If anything, all the talking makes the offence hesitate."

The one player who has influenced Bosh the most in recent weeks has been veteran Rasho Nesterovic, an anchor on defence who constantly is barking out instructions from the back end.

Not known for his quick feet or explosive hops, Nesterovic knows where to be on the court and is aware of every player's responsibilities on defence.

When Bosh and Nesterovic compete at a high level, the Raptors aren't as vulnerable on the boards.

By controlling the glass, the Raptors are able to ignite their fast break.

"We just have to continue to do the things we're doing,'' the soft-spoken Slovenian said. "We just have to keep winning."

Nesterovic quietly goes about his business with very little fanfare, but he has evolved into a key piece of the team.

Against the Bobcats, Nesterovic picked up two fouls in the first quarter, but played well through them for most of the night until he picked up his third in the game's waning minutes.

"Rasho is rubbing off on Chris," Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell said.


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