Jermaine O'Neal's strained left knee looks like it will be a game-to-game issue for the Raptors.
It was feared he had badly damaged the surgically repaired joint in Friday's loss to New Jersey, but he surprised everyone by suiting up Sunday against the Boston Celtics. That appearance was abbreviated in the second quarter, but he tried a few things at practice yesterday and though he didn't comment on his condition as he was hustled away for treatment, the team won't count him out of tomorrow's home game against the Charlotte Bobcats.
"After about 12 or 13 years in the league, he knows his own body." coach Sam Mitchell said. "We'll listen to him and the doctor, but he'll let me know if he can play."
Mitchell said he retains faith in finding some combination of starters to make up for any absence by O'Neal. The most obvious move is shifting 7-foot Andrea Bargnani to centre and reinstating Jamario Moon as small forward, which was the plan until O'Neal appeared Sunday.
Forward Chris Bosh wasn't volunteering for centre and the physical pounding it would take on his skinny body, compared to O'Neal's 260-pound bulk.
"I'm not a centre so I don't even want to say that word," Bosh said jokingly.
Point guard Jose Calderon, who hasn't fully recovered from a hamstring injury, looked lost on a couple of uncontested buckets by Celtics' Rajon Rondo, but Bosh came to his support. "Jose has to work harder (against elite players), but we have to work hard to help him," Bosh said. "If he does get beat, he has to feel he has someone behind him." ... The Raptors and Celtics will meet twice more this season (a home-and-home series on Jan. 11, 12) and not just once more as previously reported.