The concern is that Miami can get to the NBA Finals without Bosh but perhaps not beat San Antonio or Oklahoma City — both star-powered and offensively potent — without him.
Then, Miami would need Bosh, every point, every rebound, every inch of height and wingspan and all of that defense.
The Heat isn’t saying it publicly because it would appear presumptuous, but a team official told us the internal long-range goal with Bosh’s recovery has been to have him ready for the NBA Finals, with anything sooner a bonus.
Only if the Heat was in unexpected jeopardy of losing the conference finals might an appearance in this series be likely. Or, perhaps, if Miami is in command, Bosh might return for the final game of the Boston series so he can readjust to playoff game pace and so the Heat can readjust to having him back — all with the Finals in mind.
The feeling Miami should beat Boston without Bosh might seem an insult to the Celtics, especially considering their 3-1 record against . Miami this season. The last meeting featured reserves for both teams, though, and in two earlier Celtics wins guard Rajon Rondo went wild. Defending Rondo in this series figures as an even bigger key than limiting Garnett in Bosh’s continuing absence.
Boston brings experience and the emotional desperation of an aging team on its final run together. Boston also brings stout defense to help offset a deteriorated offense.
But the fact is the fifth-seeded Celtics are old, not particularly healthy right now (Paul Pierce is hobbled and Ray Allen is a limping ghost of himself) and without the athleticism to run with Miami. Also, the injury absence of sparkplug guard Avery Bradley is a big one for Boston.
The Celtics needed seven games to survive a Philadelphia team without much offensive punch.
Now here comes Miami, with an offensive punch that is of the knockout variety as long as James and Wade are playing like they are.
Meantime Chris Bosh remains offstage, gingerly on a stationary bike, slowly mending — the now-invisible key to everything.
“We need Chris,” says Wade unequivocally.
They didn’t in the last series.
They might not in this one.
But they will to be champions.