Heat’s Chris Bosh could play in pivotal Game 5 against Celtics
MIAMI — For the first time since he was injured, there is a change in status for Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh.
Coach Erik Spoelstra said Monday that Bosh has been upgraded from being out indefinitely to “day to day.” Still, Spoelstra said it’s too early to tell whether Bosh will play Tuesday against the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals. With the series tied at 2-2, the possibility of Bosh returning comes at perhaps the most pivotal moment.
He has missed the last nine postseason games since straining a lower abdominal muscle May 13 in the second round against the Indiana Pacers.
“I know everything is heightened because of the playoffs,” Spoelstra said. “I’ll continue to make my evaluations about Chris. He’s making significant progress. But to say that it is definitive right now is premature. Each day will be a new evaluation.”
Spoelstra denied an ESPN.com report that said Bosh would be available for Game 5. Although Bosh has improved considerably, Spoelstra called it premature to think he could play Tuesday at AmericanAirlines Arena. Spoelstra refused to refer to Bosh as a “game-time” decision.
Bosh traveled with the team to Boston, where he completed three workouts with trainer Rey Jaffet and assistant coach Keith Askins. The Heat still remains cautious with its approach on his return to the lineup.
“The reality of it is it’s not a normal situation,” Spoelstra said. " ... We’ll have to be very judicious on our evaluations.”
The Heat is 5-4 in Bosh’s absence, but his absence in the starting lineup has become more evident the last two games. The Heat was outplayed in the frontcourt, allowing the Celtics to climb back into the series by winning both games in Boston.
Without Bosh, the Heat has been forced to move Shane Battier to power forward. Udonis Haslem provided a spark with 12 points and 17 rebounds off the bench, but Miami was unable to contain Celtics center Kevin Garnett. The Heat also gave up 11 offensive rebounds.
“Our offense has changed considerably with him out,” Spoelstra said. "... He’s been an anchor. Everybody knows, that’s been around our team, is he’s been a major component.”
Boston Coach Doc Rivers said he prepared for every game as if Bosh were playing. His return to the lineup would free up things on offense for guard Dwyane Wade and forward LeBron James, who both have needed to increase their scoring since Bosh’s injury.
No Bosh has meant the Celtics have been able to get more creative on the defensive end.
“He helps because all the trapping we’re doing is more difficult when Bosh is on the floor,” Rivers said. “He stretches the floor. That’s his value offensively and he’s a great shooter. He really stretches the floor, he’s long. When we close out on Battier and get a hand on the ball, get a fingertip on the ball as we say … Bosh is a little taller, we can’t get fingertips on the ball when he gets it.”
The challenge for the Heat is whether they can prevent Bosh from disrupting the flow on offense when he returns. With James and Wade shouldering so much of the load, they will have to go back to searching for ways to get Bosh involved early.
Bosh was averaging 14.7 points and 6.8 rebounds before he was injured. Both totals are down from his regular-season averages.
“It’s more challenging when you’ve been out a long time,” Rivers said. “For the player, you just want him to be him. If your team is playing well, you don’t want to get in the way. As a coach, you do want him to get him to get in the way. You want him to play the way he plays.”
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