The Miami Heat have been without power forward Chris Bosh since the second quarter of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, and they will not get him back for Thursday's Game 6. Still recovering from a strained abdominal suffered in Game 1, Bosh reiterated Wednesday that the Heat will have to defeat the Indiana Pacers and extend their season in order for him to return to action.
"I've come a far way in a week," Bosh told ESPN.com of his recovery. "I'm just hoping that everyone can keep doing what they're doing and extend the season."
"I do have a chance to play again. That's the light at the end of the tunnel for me. That keeps me going everyday."
After hurting himself on a dunk over Indiana's Roy Hibbert, Bosh went to the ground just before halftime in Game 1 over a week ago. He managed to get up and shoot a free throw, but on the next series, he collapsed to the ground on defense, in too much pain to stand.
"You take it for granted how those little muscles in there play such a huge role in every single thing -- sitting down, getting up, turning, walking, talking, anything," Bosh said Wednesday. "But it's gotten a lot better."
The Heat initially looked fine without Bosh, coming from behind to win Game 1 at home. But losses in Games 2 and 3 had observers wondering if the Heat could win another game, let alone a series, without the third wheel of their Big Three.
Bosh thinks such ideas are flat-out wrong. "We're a hell of a team right now even though I'm not playing," he said. "We still have to expect the same outcome, no matter what the situation is."
The Heat have leaned on LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to account for points usually scored by Bosh, but reserve forward Udonis Haslem has come up big for Miami in the past two games. Besides contributing his usual tenacity on defense, Haslem is also starting to hit jumpers off of a pick-and-roll, one of Miami's most frequent uses of Bosh on offense.
However, with Haslem suspended for Game 6 as a result of his flagrant foul on Tyler Hansborough in Game 5, the Heat will have to come up with a new way to compensate for the loss of Bosh on Thursday.
The Heat still would love to see Bosh make it back onto the court, but for now they will have to wait while he continues to rehab and work out. "They're going to do their job and I'm going to do my job," Bosh said.
The Pacers may also be short-handed on Thursday. Forward Danny Granger hurt his foot in the second quarter of Game 5, then sprained his left ankle three minutes into the third quarter. He did not return, and his status for Game 6 is uncertain. The Heat extended leads both times after Granger exited on Tuesday, so his absence could be just as critical as Bosh and Haslem's on Thursday.
Tipoff is at 8pm from Indianapolis. If the Heat win, they will face the winner of the Philadelphia 76ers-Boston Celtics series in the Eastern Conference Finals. Philadelphia will visit Boston for a winner-take-all Game 7 on Saturday.