It's Bosh or bust

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:50 AM ET

Chris Bosh has crunched the numbers, dissected the possibilities that present themselves and the consequences.

Eight games in 12 days, three sets of back-to-backs, one scheduled practice and very little room for error.

As the Chicago Bulls took to the floor Friday night at Washington, Bosh knew the team’s magic number of making the post-season was six.

Depending on Friday’s outcome and what unfolds Saturday, when both the Bulls and Raptors play, the number may actually decrease.

While it’s possible that Toronto can catch Charlotte and move into the seventh seed, a more realistic scenario involves the eight slot.

“The urgency is there,’’ Bosh said following Friday’s workout. “We know we have to play intense basketball, play together.

“It’s a little easier because of the situation we’re in. We can be in or we can be out, both are possibilities.”

Whatever the Raptors are able to accomplish in the coming fortnight and into the spring will rest largely on the shoulders of Bosh.

Bosh hasn’t looked right the moment he came back from the all-star break in his native Dallas.

Not surprisingly, neither have the Raptors.

All kinds of theories abound as to what exactly has been ailing Bosh, who hasn’t been the dominant player he was during most of the season.

Bosh says he’s healthy, even amid growing whispers that he’s playing through pain, especially to his right knee that sports a brace.

There’s talk that Bosh has somehow shut it down, or at least not given his best because so much money is at stake this coming summer when free agency looms.

The theory that won’t go away goes something like this: Someone has gotten in Bosh’s ears; by risking an injury, he’s risking losing millions upon millions.

It’s all conjecture, but it’s talk nonetheless that is being bandied about.

Eventually, and in all likelihood when the Raptors’ season ends, the truth will come out and people who are reluctant to go on the record will bare their soul.

More than ever, the Raptors need Bosh.

Whether he stays or goes, his legacy will either be tarnished or cemented depending on how the Raptors close out the regular season and, assuming they qualify, how they perform in the playoffs.

The Raptors visit Philly Saturday afternoon and play an opponent, while wounded and depleted, remains dangerous because the Sixers are capable of scoring.

They lit up the Raptors last month, scoring 114 points and handing Toronto a loss that served as a precursor to an 0-4 West Coast trip.

Vulnerable teams must be attacked early, their will stripped and their spirits extinguished.

The Raptors were fortunate on Wednesday when they beat the Clippers 114-92. Toronto trailed at the half.

Against the Sixers, they don’t have such a luxury. Unlike L.A., the Sixers won’t be playing the back end of a back-to-back.

Philly is down and is playing out the string to a very disappointing season that is certain to cost head coach Eddie Jordan his job.

“We have to kick them while they’re down,’’ Bosh said.

The one who has to initiate the kicking must be Bosh.

Head coach Jay Triano has devised a new rotation for Bosh that sees Bosh playing as many minutes as he has been accustomed, but he’s getting rest at different intervals.

The whole idea is to ensure that Bosh has the energy to impose his will down the stretch.

“This way, I can keep my intensity up all the time,’’ he said.

The Raptors feed off Bosh.

As long as he’s producing at both ends, the Raptors have a shot at finishing the season on an upswing.

By the time Chicago rolls into town next Sunday, talk of magic numbers will be replaced by talk of a potential opening-round set with LeBron and the Cavs or even a matchup with Vince and the Magic.


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