Raps face tough challenge

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:34 AM ET

They are a tough matchup at the best of times, but catching the Cleveland Cavaliers now with the franchise -- Chris Bosh -- hobbled by a sore ankle and not expected to play, takes nightmare to another level entirely.

Say this for the Raps, however: They sound eager for the opportunity.

"He's a huge part of this organization and he's been carrying the load for us the whole year," Raptors forward Hedo Turkoglu said of Bosh. "I know it's going to be tough, especially against good teams when you're missing your best player, but it will be a good opportunity for other guys to step up. Hopefully, as a group, we step up."

Whether it was Bosh himself suggesting "a miraculous feeling overnight" would be required or head coach Jay Triano hoping that "something happens overnight to make him available," no one was holding out much hope that Bosh would be back in uniform for Friday's home game against the Cavaliers.

No running

Bosh did some stationary shooting and a few movement drills, but certainly no running on the ankle he sprained a week ago Wednesday.

"It's feeling better, getting better day by day,' Bosh said. "I did a little movement. We'll see how it goes. I'm still not sure about (playing Friday) unless I have a miraculous feeling overnight ... which is possible. I've been here before and re-injuring things over again, you just don't want to be in that position."

On the other side of the ledger, you have the Cavs who not only bring a healthy

LeBron James to Toronto, but have recently added another veteran scorer to their lineup in Antawn Jamison.

And unlike Shaquille O'Neal, who the Cavs spent the first few weeks of the season working into their system -- including a loss to the Raptors at the Air Canada Centre in their season opener -- Jamison is already well on his way to fitting in.

He came off the bench for the Cavs in the first two games since the trade deadline day three-team deal with Washington and the Los Angeles Clippers, and then started Tuesday night against New Orleans and contributed 18 points to the cause.

"He brings another scorer to their team," Antoine Wright said of Jamison. "An all-star type of guy who can get his own but also play well off

LeBron. We know what he can do from what he did in Washington and playing against him in years past. We'll plan for him being the type of player we know he is."

Jamison gives the Cavs another guy to space the floor which plays right into a guy like James who when given room to operate normally finds his way to the hoop repeatedly.

No opponent goes into a game expecting to hold James off the scoresheet, but having to contend with another scoring option on the floor such as Jamison just makes it that much more likely that even limiting James will be a major challenge.

If there is an advantage for the Raptors in this one, it is that Cleveland, as it did in that Raptors home opener, will be playing the back end of a back-to-back. Both on opening night and again Friday, the Cavs will have just tangled with the Celtics, this time in Boston.

By rights, the Cavs should have less jump than the rested Raps. But that same scenario applied to Toronto's game Wednesday against the Portland Trail Blazers who had played the night before in New Jersey and we all know how that turned out for the Raps.

"It didn't help us with Portland," Triano pointed out. "Portland played a back-to-back and came in here and they dominated us in all aspects. So we can't feel good about ourselves when things are going well and we can't feel too bad about ourselves when things aren't going well.

"We have a great challenge playing against one of the best teams in the league and the best players in the world and we're not going to have our guy (Bosh). But at the same time you have to play the game."


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