MIAMI — Chris Bosh will return when his gut tells him to, and right now, that gut is in too much pain to speak.
Such is the case with abdominal strains. They heal on their timetable, not yours. And so the Heat must definitely make do without Bosh for Game 2, and perhaps without Bosh for the entire series against the Pacers, and who knows beyond that. If Miami’s season lasts beyond that.
“The season has to be extended,” Bosh said, after his MRI, “in order for me to play again.”
That doesn’t sound like a guy who expects to suit up against against the Pacers, which means Bosh’s strain is likely in the medium range. A mild strain, he comes back by next week. A severe strain, he misses a handful of weeks, as Kevin Garnett once did, as Mo Williams once did, as Manu Ginobili once did.
“This is something we’re taking day by day,” he said. “It’s not the worse thing that could happen, and that’s the good news. Nothing would surprise me [if he didn't return this series]. These are the cards I’ve been dealt right now.”
This has major implications for the Heat against a Pacers’ team that brings Roy Hibbert and David West, who combined for 34 points and 13 rebounds mainly in the post, and also an Indiana team that controlled much of Game 1 before LeBron James grabbed a fourth-quarter sledgehammer and went to work. Expect to see more of Ronny Turiaf and Joel Anthony than you ever expected. At least that’s Miami’s mindset, anyway. Bosh’s teammates are already preparing for the worst.
“We’re moving on as though he doesn’t return this series,” James said.
Turiaf is the latest in a long list of inexpensive big-man hunts for the Heat, a search that has gone mostly futile. He’s an energy guy who brings hustle yet is overmatched offensively; the next play coach Erik Spoelstra calls for Turiaf will be the first. As for Anthony, he has his hands full with Hibbert. Bosh’s replacements give Miami a different look, not necessarily a better look. They will not generate much in terms of points; that must come from other sources. Well, mainly from the main sources, meaning LeBron and Dwyane Wade will each carry a higher burden to score and create easy baskets for others.
“Guys will have to fill their roles,” James said. “It’s not deflating for us. It does stink, but we look forward to the challenge.”
In the greater scheme — and this is no shot at Bosh — Miami didn’t just lose LeBron or Wade. The Heat can compensate somewhat for Bosh; not so much for the other two. At least in this series. It was a blessing for Miami that the Pacers didn’t seize the advantage when they had the chance. So Miami needs to win only three without Bosh.
“I pride myself on being prepared, and so does everyone else in the locker room,” said Turiaf.
Bosh missed three games with injuries earlier this season and Miami lost twice, to the Lakers and Jazz. Meaning, there are no guarantees, and Bosh does carry a degree of importance. Which we will see if Miami gets beyond the Pacers and must deal with Kevin Garnett.
With that in mind, Bosh is taking it slowly, but quickly.
“I’ll rest, take my vitamins, I just do what the training staff asks me to do,” he said. “I’m going to make sure I do everything I can, hopefully that will expedite everything. My morale is high, no matter what happens. We talk about dealing with the bumps, with the bruises. Well, my bump is here. I just have to get over it.”