Raptors require clean bill of health

The Raptors need a clean bill of health, at least from Vince Carter, to avoid suffering last season's ills.

Updated: October 20, 2003, 12:16 AM ET
By Marc Stein | ESPN.com
Editor's note: Here's a glimpse of the good -- and the bad -- that could happen to the 2003-04 Toronto Raptors.

Chris Bosh
AP PhotoChris Bosh is going to get even better, maybe this season.
Best Case Scenario
Three things need to happen for the Raptors to rejoin the clutch of teams trying to snare one of the last playoff spots in the East ... or at least re-establish themselves as a .500 team.

1. Stay healthy. That's not exactly a news flash, and certainly not exclusive to the Raptors, but it applies to Toronto maybe more than any other team in the league after the Raps set an NBA record with 519 man-games lost to injury last season. Vince Carter, for starters, is said to be healthy again, and Lamond Murray is back after missing all of last season. Those two should restore some juice to Toronto's offense. Trouble is, Toronto has been plagued by injuries for so long that there is now an expectation that Vince (or someone else important) will go down long-term. It got so bad last season, remember, that the Raptors never had 12 healthy bodies to dress for a game. Perhaps a spell of sustained health early in the season will get the injury stuff out of the Raptors' minds and allow them to focus on everything else important.

Marc Stein | email

ESPN Senior Writer
• Senior NBA writer for ESPN.com
• Began covering the NBA in 1993-94
• Also covered soccer, tennis and the Olympics