Bosh may be closer, and Heat show a need in Game 3
LeBron James has had too many nights like this, where he
couldn’t get enough help for long stretches of the game.
It’s just that most of them were back in Cleveland.
He’s not counting on Chris Bosh for Game 4, which means Dwyane
Wade and Miami’s role players will have to get back to the way
they’ve been playing since Bosh was injured.
”We’ve played great ball since he’s been out in Game 1 of the
last round,” James said. ”Guys have stepped up in his absence and
guys will have to continue to step up in his absence. We don’t know
when Chris will be back. We’re not going into the next game hoping
that he’s going to be there or whatever the case may be. We’ve got
to prepare like he’s not playing. We’ll prepare for Game 4 like
he’s not playing.”
With a quiet first half from Wade and little contributions from
any other starter, James’ 34 points were wasted in a 101-91 loss
Friday night that cut the Heat’s lead over the Boston Celtics in
the Eastern Conference finals to 2-1.
Bosh seems closer to returning from injury, and for the first
time since early in the last round, the Heat look like they need
him. Game 4 is Sunday in Boston.
James had 30 points through three quarters, the rest of his
teammates managing only 33. He had 14 of their 26 field goals at
that point as the Heat dug themselves a 22-point hole through
three, too big to climb out of even with a big fourth quarter.
”I can’t speak for everyone else, but LeBron was very
aggressive,” Wade said. ”Our offensive rhythm wasn’t necessarily
there as much, we didn’t make as many shots as we wanted to, but he
kept us afloat.”
Wade finished with 18 points and Mario Chalmers had 14, but many
of those came in a fourth-quarter comeback that never got
particularly close. Wade’s streak of 12 straight 20-point games
against the Celtics in the postseason, longest since Jerry West did
it 18 straight times from 1966-69, was snapped after he shot 9 of
”They were very aggressive trying to get the ball out of his
hands, and the ball was moving at times,” said Heat coach Erik
Spoelstra, who denied there was anything wrong with Wade. ”We
still need ways to get it back to him at the second or third ball
He did not attempt a free throw for the first time in a playoff
game since his rookie year of 2004. James took only five, making
one, as the Heat were 10 of 20 as a team.
”We’ll be more aggressive and find ways to get to the rim and
to the free throw line next game,” Spoelstra said.
There was no hint of any trouble early for the Heat, who were
shooting nearly 70 percent from the field in the first quarter and
had a six-point lead. Suddenly they went cold, going scoreless for
about 7 minutes while the Celtics ran off 15 straight points to go
ahead 37-28 with 7:47 remaining in the second period.
The deficit grew to 13 points at halftime, when Wade was just 3
of 9 for six points. The Heat were just 5 of 18 (28 percent) in the
second quarter, with Wade missing six of his eight attempts.
The Heat, with youth and athleticism on their side, remained a
force whenever they got in transition. But they stalled beyond
James in the halfcourt for long stretches, settling for
That’s where Bosh would help. The Heat often throw it into him
and move to open spots to begin their offense, and he is one of
their best shooters. Certainly better than Shane Battier, his
replacement in the starting lineup who missed all six shot
attempts, some of them nowhere close.
The Heat are still saying Bosh is out indefinitely with the
lower abdominal strain he sustained in Game 1 of the second-round
series with Indiana. He traveled with Miami to Boston and took part
the Heat’s morning workout Friday, but they didn’t do much so it’s
hard to gauge any progress by that.
Spoelstra said the All-Star forward will be re-evaluated daily,
but wouldn’t say if that meant he would be able to play in Game 4.
Though the Heat know they would need him for any shot at a
championship, they had played so well behind a dynamic two-man game
from James and Wade that it seemed they had overcome a dependence
”Probably the biggest confidence-builder for our basketball
team was the mere fact that for the last two years we simply
couldn’t win without Chris, but we simply couldn’t play effectively
without Chris. He was our most important player,” Spoelstra said
before the game.
James is now, but he can’t do it alone. That didn’t work against
the Celtics when he was still in Cleveland, and it wasn’t enough
when he was forced to do it for too long Friday.