Last night the Raptors held their annual Red Party. The proceeds of the event go to the Team Up foundation. There was reason to celebrate despite the Raptors most recent loss 116-92 to the Rockets on Monday. The 4th loss in a row and the Raptors are just 2-5 since the All-Star Break. So what is the reason for celebration? The fact that Drake performed at the event? No better than that. Chris Bosh has declared he will be back Friday vs the Knicks. The Raptors have missed him badly. Although both Hedo and Jose did not practice yesterday and Andrea as well. The pressure on Chris Bosh to bring this team back from the depths they have sunk will be large. Thankfully he can take comfort in the fact the Raptors are playing the Sixers and as mentioned the Knicks.
Chris can not single handedly bring this team back on his own. Their defense for example has been brutal and he will only be 1 piece of a chain of 5. While you can make the argument that Bosh could have been a help on the glass and add the odd block here and there. However Bosh is rarely if ever responsible for closing out on 3 point shooters. Raptors have been terrible in defending the arc. Much like they were early in the season.
Chris Bosh greatest impact will be on the other end of the floor. He demands double teams and that will make life easier for everyone else. At the top of that list of people happy to see Bosh back should be Andrea Bargnani(If he is out there). He has struggled with extra attention he received with no Bosh in the line-up. This is a clear glimpse into the future should Bosh not be back next season. Unless Colangelo is able to bring in some that can demand double teams it seems clear Bargnani will struggle. Bosh also eats up a ton of minutes once he is back up to full speed. So the impact of guys like a Reggie Evans or an Amir Johnson can have more impact in shorter stretches.
Bosh is not only this team's highest scorer he also makes scoring easier for others. In addition it seemed clear that a lot of guys were playing out of there roles. The Raptors have had players trying to be the guy to save the day without CB4. The pressure on a guy like Jarrett Jack as an example to be a scorer becomes less when Bosh is there. Jack without Bosh reminded me of T.J Ford without Bosh in how they dealt with that situation. When Jose Calderon went out of the line-up in the last game that made it even more so.
However all of this rational thinking is nice but Raptor fans will see that number 4 back in the line-up and expect results. The Raptors have said the point to Bosh being out this long was so that he could come back and be at 100% and ready to go the rest of the season. Well now people are going to expect Chris to be at the level they have come to expect from Bosh. It was awhile ago now but the game vs Grizzlies where Bosh was injured he played like a warrior in that game. The Raptors still lost that contest and his injury was likely a factor in that. However now people will expect to see that same type of effort and energy return.
Chris alone will not be able to turn this thing around though. This team around him needs to take advantage of his return and take advantage of it. Perhaps it can help Demar DeRozan get out of the rookie funk he has fallen into. Basically this team needs to rally around Chris and his return and pull up their collective socks. The race has gotten a lot tighter for the playoffs in the East. The dream of catching the Celtics to win the Atlantic is dying fast. The sooner the Raptors can turn this around and get back to securing the fact they will be in the playoffs the better. Forget about match-ups for the playoffs right now. Raptors need to focus on just getting there right now. It would be a complete disaster if they did not. I am not saying that will happen. However I am not saying that folks should start trying to look ahead to who the Raptors might play in the playoffs.
Besides if the Raptors do not improve and do it fairly quickly it is not going to matter who they end up playing. They will be one and done. It is the Raptors job over this next 6 weeks to secure a spot in the playoffs and along the way convince people they can do something once they get there. A healthy and productive Chris Bosh will be a huge part in making that happen.
UPDATE- NOON Ok this is great....NOT. CB4 missed shoot around. Not because of his injured left ankle. Nope he has an upset stomach. Upon hearing this news....so do I. Bosh and Hedo will be gametime decisions. As for me I am ready to roll liveblogging this one for The Score.com links later today on Twitter or just head to The Score and click on blogs then liveblogs and you'll find me. 7pm tip time at the ACC.