Turkoglu looks to impress home crowd

After missing the Toronto Raptors‘ first four exhibition games, Hedo Turkoglu says he is ready for an expanded role with the club as the season nears.

The all-star forward, who made his Raptors debut in the club’s 106-90 loss to the Boston Celtics [4-1] on Wednesday, will be looking to get better acquainted with his new teammates in Sunday’s rematch between the two teams at the Air Canada Centre [3 p.m. ET].

Turkoglu has played in just 45 minutes so far in the preseason due to his finals appearance with the Orlando Magic and a stint with his native Turkey in the European Basketball Championships this past summer.

“I’m feeling much better every day, and I think practicing with them and playing games is really going to help me out to feel more comfortable on the court, and feeling the atmosphere and getting to know my teammates,” he said after the Raptors 124-112 loss to the Houston Rockets on Thursday.

”I’m happy to be out there with them and hopefully we’ll all be in the best shape we can before the season starts.”

Knowing Turkoglu will play a major part in how the team’s season unfolds, Raptors head coach Jay Triano is keeping a keen eye on how much court time the nine-year veteran will receive in the club’s final two preseason games.

“The fatigue thing after missing a couple of weeks is going to be something we’re going to have to work on over the next two weeks,” Triano said.

“Right now we don’t want to maximize his minutes too soon and have him pick up something due to fatigue.”

Toronto [2-4] has been dealing with numerous injuries so far this pre-season as Reggie Evans is currently out with a sprained left foot.

The power forward sustained the injury in the team’s loss against the Celtics and is hoping to be ready for the season opener on Oct. 28 against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Chris Bosh has also been dealing with a nagging hamstring injury since the beginning of training camp.

“By the end of the pre-season, I’ll be fine,” said Bosh, who has averaged 15.5 points over his last two games.

If Toronto is to win in this meeting, they will have to do a better job of getting rebounds as Boston won the battle of the boards 44-32 in the last game.

The Raptors’ final preseason game will be against the Minnesota Timberwolves in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on Oct. 23.