Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – As the Miami Heat prepare for Monday’s clash with the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, one big name remains missing from the Heat’s lineup, Chris Bosh.
Bosh has been on the sidelines since he strained a lower abdominal muscle in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Indiana Pacers. Bosh went through a “very-light” on-court workout Sunday, but the Heat have no timetable for a possible return.
“I wouldn’t over-read into his workout yesterday,” Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said Monday. “We’ll continue to reevaluate him every day. He’ll continue to do his rehab. When he starts legitimate basketball work, I’ll pay attention a little bit more.”
Bosh was averaging 15 points and 7.2 rebounds per game in the playoffs before his injury in Game 1 against the Pacers. In his absence, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have elevated their game even further, combining to score 65.7 points per game over the final three games of the Pacers series.
In many ways, the Heat came together as a team and began playing at a championship level. James and Wade were much more aggressive after Game 3 against the Pacers and the Heat saw plenty of rewards for their effort. Celtics coach Doc Rivers knows the Heat may be even tougher now.
“You can say they’re more dangerous because now those 15 shots that Bosh had, they’re going to Wade and LeBron,” Rivers said. “So in some ways, they have the ball more. They’re more aggressive. It almost activated them to be more aggressive, which puts a lot of stress on your defense.”
The Heat will welcome back a key piece to their rotation, power forward Udonis Haslem. He had missed a game for a flagrant foul in Game 5 against the Pacers. Haslem rediscovered his jump shot against the Pacers and if he can keep up the pace against the Celtics, the Heat may be unbeatable.
But, the Heat would be an overwhelming favorite if Bosh was in the lineup. Most expect Bosh will be out through the remainder of the Celtics series, unless something goes very wrong for the Heat.
If the Heat want to beat either the San Antonio Spurs or Oklahoma City Thunder, they will definitely need Bosh’s tall body, long arms, and scoring ability.
But job number one is simple, get past the Celtics. Miami starts that mission Monday night.
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