MIAMI - With forward Chris Bosh out for the immediate future, the Heat are proceeding as they have since he sustained an abdominal injury in the first game of the Eastern semifinals.
“I’m not preparing for that right now,’’ coach Erik Spoelstra said Sunday, the day before his team opens the conference finals at home against the Celtics. “I’m preparing for who’s in the gym. Everybody was able to do something today except Chris. Our focus is tomorrow and that’s all I can concentrate on is tomorrow. We have enough to win tomorrow and that’s all any of our guys should be focused on.’’
Bosh’s injury is a delicate one and recovery can’t necessarily be rushed, so the Heat are continuing to look for others to help make up for his contributions, such as Joel Anthony and Udonis Haslem with rebounding and defense, and Mario Chalmers and Mike Miller with offense, but the bulk of the responsibility still falls on the shoulders of stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
“Me and LeBron, we’re the key to our team,’’ Wade said. “Both of us have to play well. That doesn’t mean we both have to score 40 and 30. But we have to play well for us to give ourselves a legit chance to beat this team. Chris is a big part of what we did last year when we beat them in five [in the conference semis], so we have to figure out a way to make up for his absence.
“We don’t have Chris Bosh. We have no excuses.’’
Although the Heat are looking for contributions from all their role players, they are especially looking for Chalmers to have an impact.
“Rio has to be offensive-minded,’’ James said. “We know [Rajon] Rondo will be and the rest of the guys will be. We need Rio to always be offensive-minded.’’
Chalmers’s scoring was sporadic in Round 2 against the Pacers, with 9 points total in the first two games, 25 in Game 3, 8 each in Games 4 and 5, and 15 points in the series clincher.
The Heat are also looking to him to help slow down Rondo.
“You can’t define him by a statistic or his numbers, he makes winning plays,’’ Spoelstra said of Rondo. “And it’s not a coincidence he does it in all the biggest moments. It might be a drive, it might be an offensive rebound, it might be a steal, it might be a deflection, it might be one of those great passes he makes to set someone up for a wide-open jumper. And you get to the end of the clock and he’s proven that he’ll make some of those [shots].’’
Wade went so far as to say Chalmers is going to be one of the most important factors in determining Miami’s success.
“He has to play well for us,’’ Wade said. “Rondo is someone who is obviously an unbelievable penetrator, he does an unbelievable job of getting his teammates involved. He can get his teammates involved for three straight quarters and pick it up in the fourth and start attacking, so Mario has to give us what Mario has been giving us, just more consistently. Defensively, it’s going to be a big job for him.’’
Chalmers believes he is up to the challenge.
“I’m just going to sit down tonight and come up with a game plan with my teammates and coaches,’’ he said.
Not buying it
The notion that the Celtics are old and/or exhausted was quickly dismissed by the Heat.
“That’s ridiculous,’’ Spoelstra said. “We don’t buy into any of that. They didn’t look exhausted after playing against two of the quicker, younger teams in this league. Philly is young - I think they are the youngest - the fastest and most athletic, and Boston was able to grind that series and win in a manner and a way they do it. They defend, they do it with toughness, and they do it with timely offensive possessions.’’
Even with the Celtics banged up, the Heat are expecting Boston to ignore any maladies and just play hard. Wade even laughed off the idea that Ray Allen’s ailing ankle would pose a problem.
“We’re not buying into any of that - no feet hurting, no tired, no nothing,’’ Wade said. “They’re the Boston Celtics; they’re all 100 percent to me. When they play the Miami Heat it’s a different ballgame and vice versa - no story lines, no excuses.’’