Raps are wounded warriors

MIKE GANTER, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:12 PM ET

It seems the Raptors are making a run on broken noses.

Hedo Turkoglu, like Chris Bosh the night before him has a broken nose, although his is a non-displaced fracture. Boshís required surgical straightening.

The smartass might suggest a run in the win column would be more beneficial. Of course, no one chooses their injuries.

But the Raptors have chosen, in their own donít-worry way, to leave things right to the very end.

Four games to go, a game up on Chicago, give or take a half depending on what the Cavaliers and Bulls got up to on Thursday night, and the Raptors are life and death to hold on to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

And theyíre going to have to do so without Chris Bosh and potentially with a return of the mask-wearing Turkoglu.

Turkoglu, it was revealed Thursday, suffered a new non-displaced fracture on an old nasal fracture when Tony Allenís head collided viciously with his proboscis.

Turkoglu will travel with the team to Atlanta and has indicated to the team that he wants to play.

He is even willing to wear a mask.

His participation will be a game-time decision.

There is no such optimism where Bosh is concerned.

The very best-case scenario for him is a return in the playoffs and for all we know even that could be wildly over optimistic.

But remember it didnít have to be this way.

You only have to go back to Sunday when a Golden State team with nine bodies and without its own leading scorer in Monta Ellis, waltzed into Toronto and left with a 113-112 win.

Golden State, at complete health, doesnít possess the talent the Raptors do, but at about half strength and relying on handful of D-League callups, they showed more than a fully stocked Raptors team could on home court.

It is games like those, the ones the Raptors should have had, that haunt at this time of the year.

This column isnít long enough to list all the let-down games, the gimmies that werenít, but any Raptors fan will have no problem coming up with enough to easily ensure no one should be worrying about Chicago at this time of year.

Instead, we do worry, and with cause, because now the Raptors are not only missing their top scorer and rebounder, it is a team of walking wounded.

There is Turkí s nose, Antoine Wright and Jarrett Jackís sprained ankles, and a hyper-extended knee that Amir Johnson insists he will be able to play on. Johnson injured the knee when all 300-or-so pounds of Glenn Davis came to rest on it and the knee gave.

Injuries like these should be getting rest in anticipation of a playoff series, not being driven to the extreme in order to make the post-season party.

The good news, if there is any in Raptorland these days, is that the team still controls its own fate.

Of their four games remaining only one is against a plus-.500 team and that comes tonight in Atlanta. Raps fans might want to skip that one all together. Last time down there, things got pretty ugly for the visitors.

I swear I even saw Sam Mitchell, who was in attendance that night, smile. It was that gruesome.

Regardless of what happens in Georgia, the Raptorsí playoff hopes will be determined Sunday through Wednesday.

Sunday they play host to Chicago, a team that must finish ahead of them in the standings to advance as the Raptors own the tie-breaker.

Monday they travel to Detroit and Wednesday they host the New York Knicks.

Even as banged up as the Raps are right now, those are three games that are winnable and they donít even need all of them.

Any two are likely to get the job done.

It wonít be easy. Some are going to have to play in pain, but it says here that one way or the other theyíll get it done.

It just never should have got to this point.

This should be rest time.

mike.ganter@sunmedia.ca


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