Bosh listed as 'day to day,' may play in Game 5
MIAMI — About 1 ½ weeks ago, Chris Bosh began trying to convince Miami Heat decision makers of his readiness to return from an abdominal strain.
They finally might listen to him.
The Heat's top big man, who was injured May 13 and has missed the past nine playoff games, was upgraded Monday from being out "indefinitely" to “day-to-day" by Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.
But Spoelstra stopped shy of saying Bosh definitely will play in Tuesday’s Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against Boston at AmericanAirlines Arena.
“He’s making significant progress," Spoelstra said. “But to say that it is definitive right now is premature. Each day will be a new evaluation."
Spoelstra said it will be a group effort to determine if Bosh will play Tuesday. Input will come from Heat officials and medical personnel. If it were up to Bosh, he already would have suited up.
“He said he was ready 10 days ago,’’ Spoelstra said.
Abdominal strains can be tricky, because a player can be set back for a long period if he tries to rush back two soon. With the Celtics having won the past two games to tie the series 2-2, there is a sense of urgency from a basketball standpoint.
But Spoelstra, whose team didn’t practice Monday after Sunday’s 93-91 overtime loss in Game 4, insists nothing will be rushed.
“We’ll have to be very judicious on our evaluations," said Spoelstra, who said Bosh looked good in three workouts over the weekend when the Heat were in Boston for Games 3 and 4. “If he doesn’t play, it’s not a setback. You can go on and on and on and drive yourself crazy. We’ll evaluate it every day."
The Celtics are preparing for Bosh to play. Then again, they’ve apparently had that mindset the entire series.
“You don't have to do everything different," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Monday. "We've prepared every game like Bosh is going to play. And eventually he will. Maybe (Tuesday)."
Bosh was hurt late in the first half May 13 in Game 1 of an East semifinal against Indiana. The Heat ended up winning that series 4-2.
Bosh has missed all four games against the Celtics. His absence really was felt in the past two games, which including Miami being outrebounded 44-32 in Friday's 101-91 loss in Game 3.
“Our offense has changed considerably with him out,’’ said Spoelstra, whose Heat are 5-4 in the playoffs without Bosh. “And we’re reinventing ourselves on the fly and making, I think, great progress on that end. In the playoffs against a great defensive team, it’s not always going to look fluid …. (Boston big man) Kevin Garnett makes it always a challenge …. Defensively, (Bosh has) always been a multi-position anchor for us that knows our schemes and allows us to do different things. So everybody knows that’s been around our team that he was a major component of what we do."
Garnett, 36, is a better post player than anybody Indiana has, so he’s been better equipped to take advantage of Bosh’s absence. The ageless Garnett is averaging 20.5 points and 10.8 rebounds in the series.
Interestingly, Garnett had an abdominal strain in 2007-08 that knocked him out for nine games and for a bit more than three weeks, which is how long Bosh will have been out if he returns Tuesday. But Garnett has let it be known that it’s a difficult injury to shake off.
“It’s very tough to come back from,’’ Garnett said about the injury in an interview last week with FOX Sports Florida. “Very tough. Very difficult. It’s in the core of your body; the abs are kind of the parts to hold you up. Very, very hard to come back from.’’
Even if Bosh isn’t immediately at full strength, his return would figure to help Miami’s less-than-spectacular post game. And it would at least give the Heat a better third scoring option, with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade having carried so much of the load the past three weeks.
Another guy who can provide scoring who has been banged up is swingman Mike Miller. Miller, who has had any ailing back, didn’t play after the first half in Game 4. But Spoelstra said it was a “lineup decision,’’ and that he will play Tuesday.
The game is pivotal for the Heat considering how poorly they have been playing in Boston, where they have lost 15 of their last 16 regular-season and playoff games. A Game 5 defeat would force the Heat to win Game 6 in Boston or their season would be over.
The Heat showed signs of unraveling in their two losses in Boston. Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo went so far as to take a shot at the Heat at halftime of Game 4, when they trailed 61-47.
When asked in an ESPN interview how Boston was taking advantage of the Heat, Rondo said it was because they were “complaining and crying to the referees in transition."
“It’s just normal playoff chatter," Spoelstra said about Rondo’s remarks. “I couldn't care less about what another player says about our team."
Spoelstra cares a lot more about what his own players say. And if Bosh says he’s ready to go Tuesday, this time his words might be heeded.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @christomasson