As the Miami Heat prepare for their Eastern Conference Finals matchup against the Boston Celtics, the main question on the minds of Heat fans near and wide remains the same: 'Is Chris Bosh going to play?' Obviously having Bosh back in the lineup would be very advantageous for Miami, as it would be for any other team this late in the post season. That being said, I think Heat fans are a bit less frantic about getting Bosh back right now than they were a week or so ago, when Miami looked lost for a couple of games after losing Bosh to his abdominal injury during Game 1 against Indiana.
Bosh is still listed by the Heat as ‘out indefinitely', with coach Erik Spoelstra going as far as to say that while the team has been busy practicing and preparing for the Boston Celtics, regarding Bosh "our preparation is without him." What really sucks for the fans is that we have to just sit back and wait to hear an update on Bosh, with no idea whether he'll be out for just a few more days or anywhere up to the rest of the playoffs, which will be completely over in less than a month.
Things looked bleak for the Heat after Bosh went down during the second quarter of Game 1 against the Indiana Pacers. Miami held on to win that game, but went on to lose the following two, falling behind in a playoff series for just the second time since the Big 3 came together (the only other time was during last year's NBA Finals). It wasn't just that they lost those two games, but the way they lost them, looking far from the dominant team that Heat fans have grown accustomed to watching these past two seasons.
Things finally began to come together without Bosh, and the winning formula was pretty simple. Put the ball in the hands of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, have one or two role players hit a handful of outside shots and play the defense that has been the staple of this team all season. I think Indiana Pacers' coach Frank Vogel said it best when he said that as good of a player as Chris Bosh is, him getting hurt and the ball being put in LeBron and D-Wade's hands even more times per game isn't an advantage for the opposing team.
We'll see how that works out for Miami against their next opponent, the Boston Celtics. Defensively, this is potentially a pretty good matchup for the Heat. Boston is a team that doesn't run much, doesn't really pound the paint and likes to take a lot of jumpshots. I'm sure there are plenty of fans out there who are quick to mention how the Celtics aren't getting any younger, but for me that's not something I'm ready to concede.
Sure, on paper (including their birth certificates) they are all a year older than they were when Miami defeated them in the Eastern Conference Semifinals last season, but I haven't seen anyone on that team looking any slower despite having an extra candle on their birthday cake. Of Boston's Big 3, the only one who has been looking less like his usual self of late is the one who scares me the most; Ray Allen. This guy has been a lights-out shooter his entire career but seems to be struggling lately. Do I hope it continues? Hell yes. Do I think it will? Probably not.
Regardless of what the Celtics throw at Miami over the next couple weeks, I really hope that Chris Bosh gets healthy and is able to join his teammates in full practices and maybe even a game or two. Going on the assumption that my particular prediction is correct (I've got the Heat winning this series in six games), Miami is going to need every weapon they can muster when the NBA Finals roll around.
Whichever team comes out of the West is going to be a powerhouse, and they'll be playing on top of their game because that's what it's going to take to reach the Finals. Both the Spurs and Thunder can score from all points of the floor, and a guy with the versatility of Bosh will come in handy to defend pick-n-rolls with those long arms and stretch out defenses with his accurate jumper. Obviously the Heat need to reach the Finals first, and I'm not one to count my chickens before they hatch. Right now let's just hope that Bosh can soon graduate to working out on a basketball court again, so that he may rejoin his teammates and word towards their one and only goal: winning an NBA title.