Chris Bosh likely to return for Heat in Game 5 vs. Celtics
The struggling Miami Heat look to avoid only their second three-game losing streak of the season tonight in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals and the Heat appear likely to get back All-Star Chris Bosh for the first time in this series. Miami is an 8-point betting favorite on WagerWeb.com – despite the fact the Heat have covered just once in eight games vs. Boston this year.
For the first time since Bosh sustained an abdominal strain on May 13 in Game 1 against the Indiana Pacers, Heat coach Spoelstra changed Bosh’s status from out “indefinitely” to “day-to-day,” — in the wake of an ESPN report that Bosh will play Tuesday (barring a setback) and a Sunday night Miami Herald report that Bosh might play in Game 5.
During workouts in Boston over the weekend, Bosh was effective in lateral movements — a key to returning from this type of injury — and Spoelstra said Bosh’s “conditioning and comfort level” will play a role in the decision. The Heat is 5-4 in the nine full playoff games that Bosh has missed, with Dwyane Wade shooting 55 percent with Bosh on the court and 45 percent otherwise. Since Bosh joined the Heat, Miami is 12-11 without him.
Wade is struggling in a big way in this series, with his shooting percentage getting worse each game with the Celtics often aggressively double-teaming him and also keeping him out of the lane. Wade was 7-for-22 in Game 4’s loss and missed the potential winning 3-pointer at the overtime buzzer.
Bosh’s return also could mean somewhat fewer minutes for Shane Battier, who is shooting 9 for 30 in the series. Udonis Haslem will continue to get minutes in the wake of his 17-rebound game Sunday. Haslem missed a potential winning shot at the end of regulation in that game after LeBron James was double teamed and forced to pass. The Heat are now 0-for-7 in the final 24 seconds of regulation or overtime in these playoffs on potential go-ahead shots.
The Heat’s need for another quality big man is all-encompassing at this point. They need the threat of Bosh’s offense so that Kevin Garnett cannot rove anywhere he pleases to double-team Miami’s other stars or clog the lane on the LeBron/Wade pick-and-rolls that the team ran so often in Game 4. They could use another scorer, period, after having wiped out a huge chunk of their play book and replaced it with isolations during Bosh’s absence. They need more flexibility to play two big men against a depleted Boston team thrilled it can go small, and they need a big man to help clean up their suddenly broken defense.
With Bosh out, the Heat have been playing small constantly, and Boston has outscored them badly while playing Garnett with four wings and guards. The Celtics are minus-6 for the series but plus-27 (in 75 minutes) with that lineup on the floor.
Free-throw shooting also remains a concern, with Miami shooting 64.9 percent in the series, compared with Boston’s 74.0. And something must be done to slow Rajon Rondo, who is averaging 22.8 points, 10.4 assists and 7.6 rebounds. He has been the best player in this series.