Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Miami remains the prohibitive favorite to
come out of the Eastern Conference in the NBA playoffs, but what looked like a
coronation a couple days ago has morphed into a dogfight after the injury to
Heat big man Chris Bosh.
Bosh, who scored 13 points before suffering a strained lower abdominal muscle
shortly before halftime of the Heat's 95-86 win over Indiana in Game 1 of the
East semifinals on Sunday, is out indefinitely.
The seven-time All-Star, who averaged 18.4 points and 8.1 rebounds in 2011-12,
was expected to handle a number of critical roles against the Pacers' imposing
7-foot-2 center Roy Hibbert.
Miami coach Erik Spoelstra envisioned Bosh's perimeter acumen forcing
Indiana's big man away from the basket on defense, opening up lanes to the
hoop so the team's two superstars, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, could drive
to the bucket with impunity. Meanwhile, his quickness and top-tier offensive
skills also were expected to help get Hibbert into foul trouble.
Both of those plans were coming to fruition during Game 1 before Bosh drove
around Hibbert for a jam and strained his ab while extending for the hoop and
Miami persevered without its top interior presence thanks in large part to the
newly minted NBA MVP James, who had 32 points, 15 rebounds and five assists as
the Heat grinded out the Game 1 victory,
The contest was deadlocked after three quarters, however, and Indiana was as
close as 86-85 when George Hill buried a 3-pointer with five minutes remaining
before James took over down the stretch.
With or without Bosh, it was alarming that the Pacers hung around on Miami's
home floor despite the fact that Danny Granger, typically Indiana's top
offensive threat, was held scoreless in the first half for the first time
since April 10, 2007, and finished with just seven points on 1-of-10 field-goal
"We're not going to change," Pacers forward Davis West said. "We didn't play a
good enough game tonight as a group to compete with these guys. We can play a
lot better than we did."
That's got to be a scary thought for Spoelstra since he needed the game's best
player clicking on all cylinders to dispose of a team that struggled.
Spoelstra wouldn't say who will start in Bosh's place for Monday's Game 2 or
how long he expects his big man to sit out.
"We're not even going to speculate," the Miami mentor said. "We just have to
see day-to-day. There absolutely isn't a timetable right now. He was in today
Bosh, however, essentially ruled himself out of the semifinals.
"This season has to be extended for me to play again," he said. "So that's
what's on my mind. "
James, meanwhile, compared the Heat losing Bosh to Chicago's injury troubles.
The top-seeded Bulls, of course, lost both Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah and
lost to the No. 8 Philadelphia in the first round.
"It's going to be a challenge for us. We're missing the biggest part of our
team, probably the biggest part of our team," stated the MVP. "Nobody feels
sorry for the Bulls losing (Derrick Rose) or Joakim Noah getting hurt. Nobody
feels sorry for you and we don't want anybody feeling sorry for us. We look
forward to the challenge. And we'll be ready."
Ronny Turiaf started the second half of Game 1 after Bosh exited and Spoelstra
also could go with shot-blocking specialist Joel Anthony or slide veteran
power forward Udonis Haslem over.
Turiaf, who signed with Miami on March 21 after being waived by Denver, plays
with energy and offers the opportunity to keep the rest of his rotation
intact. Anthony is the best athlete and defensive option, a player who can
erase mistakes on the perimeter, while Haslem is probably best-served staying
"We feel this team was built with a great deal of versatility. We feel that is
one of our best strengths," Spoelstra said. "This will be an opportunity for
guys to step forward. But it also will be an opportunity for us to use some of
this versatility that we've been talking about."
With James and Wade playing at a high level, the Heat remain the favorites in
the East, but losing the other piece of "Miami Thrice" puts Indiana, along with
Boston or Philadelphia, back in the conversation.
"It changes their team, but we've got to understand it doesn't allow you to
play 5-on-4," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "They have got great players they
can fill in for him. Obviously, not having to worry about Bosh helps because
he's such a terrific player."
The Sports Network