MIAMI - The same question had started every news conference since the Eastern Conference finals began. How was Chris Bosh doing? When would he be back? The answer, finally, was Game 5 Tuesday night.
Bosh was able to take part in the Heat’s practice Monday and in shootaround Tuesday, the most activity he had taken part in since straining an abdominal muscle May 13 against the Pacers, an injury that can keep a player out anywhere from 3-12 weeks. Bosh had targeted three weeks, and he was right on the nose.
Before the game, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra maintained that it would be a game-time decision. Bosh was activated, and though he didn’t start he played 14 minutes, scoring 9 points and grabbing seven rebounds in Miami’s 94-90 loss to the Celtics.
“He gave us a big boost, gave everybody a big emotional burst,’’ guard Mario Chalmers said. “We’ve just got to feed off that the whole game.’’
The plan was for Bosh to play in short spurts, and he was not to be a focal point. He entered the game for the first time with 5:06 left in the first quarter. He received a standing ovation as he stood by the scorer’s table, and another as he entered the game.
“It will be a small role,’’ Spoelstra had said before the game. “And that’s all he has to be for us right now. He doesn’t have to be the Chris Bosh that he was seven weeks ago. We can build up to that. He just has to give us solid minutes and help our rotation get worked out.’’
Bosh said he felt good in Game 5, and that he “definitely has more to give.’’ He indicated that he’d be able to play more in Game 6. He did not play in the fourth quarter Tuesday night.
“I didn’t think it would be fair to him to throw him in with three minutes to go,’’ Spoelstra said. “But I thought he gave us good minutes. I think that’s something we can build on. He felt good physically afterwards. That’s a good sign.
“I didn’t see a great deal of rust. I think his energy, everything, was good.’’
Spoelstra said he was encouraged that the power forward would be able to play additional minutes in Game 6 in Boston.
“It’s been some year for me, but basketball is kind of my sanctuary,’’ Bosh said. “It’s something that I can use to get away from everything and I enjoy playing the game. So to be back out there, just to put my uniform on in the warmups and to be involved in the game in some kind of way physically, it was good for me. It’s good just to be able to do what I love.’’
Tragedy at home
One of things on Bosh’s mind was that, according to reports, Bosh’s masseuse collapsed at his Miami Beach home and later died after being taken to a South Florida hospital. The Miami Herald reported that police said no signs of foul play were found.
Police said the woman “appeared to be well and in good spirits’’ upon arrival at Bosh’s house, according to the Associated Press. A cause of death has not yet been determined.
Before the game, Spoelstra said of the situation, “It’s an absolute tragedy. It really is. We’re learning all the full details right now, so it would be probably inappropriate for me to comment any further about it.’’
Bosh was not available to the media before the game, but he and his wife, Adrienne, released a statement:
“Last evening, a massage therapist that we have used for some time arrived at our home to provide massage therapy. Shortly after she arrived, she fainted and lost consciousness. We called 911 and emergency personnel arrived at our home shortly thereafter. They took her to Mount Sinai Hospital, where she passed away.
“Our hearts go out to her family. We are very sorry for their loss.’’
Time to Wade in
The Heat trailed early in each of the two games in Boston, falling into significant holes in Games 3 and 4. Part of that had been their inability to integrate Dwyane Wade into the offense early.
Wade finished with 27 points Tuesday night, scoring 7 in the first quarter but getting shut out in the second quarter.
“We’ve played with a much greater desperation once we’ve gotten down,’’ Spoelstra had said before the game.
“We’ll have to beat them at their best, that’s what the playoffs are all about. We’ve got to bring it. Even if we might not necessarily be playing well, we have to compete and get our hands dirty, and we have not done that at the beginning of games.’’
The Heat led after the first quarter, 24-16, but the Celtics outscored them in the second quarter, 24-18, leaving the Heat with a slim 42-40 advantage at the break.
Spoelstra and his players were especially unhappy with their defensive in the first half of Game 4. Miami upped the defensive pressure after halftime and forced overtime before losing.
Hard to hold serve
Spoelstra noted before Game 5 that even though both teams had won their home games so far, it was not assured in this series - and he was proven correct with Tuesday night’s result. “You can’t take it for granted, and you can’t assume that that will mean anything,’’ he said. “Particularly in a series like this. I think both teams feel like they can win in any building.’’ . . . LeBron James said, despite fouling out in Game 4, he wasn’t planning on doing anything differently to avoid fouls in Game 5. He finished with one personal foul.