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Miami Heat PF Chris Bosh could be ready to return to action after missing much of the last month with an abdominal injury. ESPN reported Monday morning that Bosh will be activated for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals Tuesday night unless he undergoes a setback in his rehabilitation program on Monday or Tuesday.
Bosh has not appeared in a game since Game 1 of the Miami Heat's second round series against the Indiana Pacers, way back on May 13. He strained an abdominal while being fouled on a dunk, and was unable to continue playing after sustaining the injury. Since then, the Heat are 5-4 without their third All-Star.
The Heat never officially said how long they expected Bosh to be absent, continually saying he would be out "indefinitely." However, Bosh traveled with the team to Boston for Games 3 and 4 so he could continue performing on-court workouts with assistant coaches during practice sessions.
Through his five and a half playoff games in 2012, Bosh is averaging 15 points and 7 rebounds per game. During the regular season Bosh averaged 18 points and 8 rebounds a game. Dwyane Wade and LeBron James have each picked up Bosh's slack in the points column, but Miami has experienced difficulties running its offense without the versatile Bosh.
The Heat have especially missed Bosh's interior presence in the Celtics series. Boston PF Kevin Garnett is averaging 21 points and 11 rebounds per game playing against Udonis Haslem and Joel Anthony. Bosh's ability to get shots close to the rim and suck defenders out of the painted area thanks to his large shooting range would also be of particular benefit to the Heat, who have struggled to score close to the rim during its two losses in Boston.
But even if Bosh does return, he might not be able to play the kind of minutes Heat fans are accustomed to. Because it can take time to regain full strength after an abdominal injury, teams tend to take it easy with players just returning from injury.
With the Eastern Conference Finals tied at 2 games apiece, the Heat will be looking for any extra advantage they can find. Bosh's return could be enough to put the Heat on top of the Celtics, or he could be rushing back before his body has healed enough to contribute the kind of play his teammates have come to expect from him.
Game 5 tips off at 8:30 on Tuesday. If Bosh does return, the American Airlines Arena will be even louder than usual.