It's a given that Chris Bosh has a nose for the ball.
But rarely during an NBA career now entering its seventh season has the 6-foot-10 Toronto Raptors forward displayed such a tenacity going after it off the offensive glass, as he has to start the 2009-10 campaign.
"I think we're close as a team," Bosh said yesterday after practice when asked about his prodigious start. "I think we're doing pretty good given the time we've had together.
"My numbers are okay, just trying to stay consistent and keep it going. I'm just happy with getting offensive rebounds."
Funny, for a guy who is tied for third in NBA scoring heading into last night's play (averaging 31 points in Toronto's first three games) and is second overall in rebounding (14.7), Bosh is more concerned with the number 12 - the rebounds he has plucked off the offensive glass (an average of four per outing, ranking him fourth in the league). It represents a significant jump for a man who, last year, averaged 2.8 offensive rebounds over the course of the season.
As there usually is with these things, there's a good reason for the increase. Bosh said he is making a more concerted effort to position himself closer to the basket when the Raptors (1-2) are setting up on offence.
"I'm more inside on the offence, I'm in the right position, that's all it is," Bosh said. "You have to get positioning early and you have to be strong with guys. But you have to be inside at first, and that makes it a lot tougher."
Bosh said it was a plan of attack he mapped out with Toronto head coach Jay Triano and, so far, there are no complaints about the results - at least from a personal standpoint.
"That's one of the things me and Jay talked about," Bosh said. "Even if the play was designed in a certain way [last season] I was floating around the elbow and the wing a little bit too much. So that was really a point of emphasis for me, to roll a lot more and get down to the basket a lot more, just be more of a traditional big [man]"
Despite Bosh's best efforts, the Raptors have lost two in a row after opening the regular-season with a scintillating victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The defence is still springing leaks, which Triano hopes to have mostly plugged by tonight, when the Raptors play the Detroit Pistons at the Air Canada Centre.
"I see signs where we share the ball real well and we cover for each other," Triano said. "And then I see signs where we look like we don't know each other. I think it's going to be like that for a little bit. And I think for the most part I'm pleased with where we are? Do I want it to be better? Absolutely. We'll get better, yes."
The new-look Pistons are also struggling early, carrying a two-game losing skid into last night's game at home against the Orlando Magic.
Point guard Richard Hamilton was expected to sit out his third consecutive game with a sprained right ankle. It is unknown if Hamilton, Detroit's leading scorer the last seven seasons, will be healthy enough to play against Toronto.
The Raptors will need all they help they can get, as Detroit swept the season series last year for the first time since 1997-98.
The Raptors will also face former Toronto forward Charlie Villanueva, who signed with Detroit in the off-season.
Raptors forward Amir Johnson, who played 135 games for the Pistons from 2005-09, will face his former team for the first time. "I'm excited to play them," he said. "I'll be more excited when we beat them."