goes from starting Game 4 to not playing in Game 5. Chris Bosh
plays 10 productive first-half minutes, then just four the rest of the night. James Jones
, out of the rotation for much of the season, logs more than eight minutes in the Heat’s most important fourth quarter of the year.
With some of his surprising lineup decisions, coach Erik Spoelstra
has provided talking points for second-guessers.
Start with Bosh, who had nine points and six rebounds in his first game back from an abdominal strain. Asked Wednesday why Bosh did not play in the fourth quarter, Spoelstra said, “I didn’t think it would necessarily be fair to him to throw him in with three minutes to go.”
Pressed Thursday about why that was even an issue, Spoelstra said, “Those are decisions you have to make as a coach, and after the fact, those can always be second-guessed. But we’re treading in new waters, and he had been out quite a while.”
Bosh said Thursday “I feel like I had more to give” but added, “We had the right guys in at the right time. I can’t win everything in my first game back. Hopefully, I’ll be able to contribute a little more.”
Bosh, who said the fan ovation “made me feel special,” closed with nine points and seven rebounds, but the Heat was outscored by 12 with Bosh on the floor — the worst plus/minus of any Heat player in Game 5.
Spoelstra said Bosh will play more in Game 6 but would not say if he would start and added, “I don’t know how many minutes Chris will actually be able to play. It will be based more on how he feels.”
The Heat is 7-2 with Bosh and Udonis Haslem
starting together (including 5-1 in the playoffs), and Spoelstra said that pairing “could happen. That’s an option to go back to some things we were doing before.” But Bosh, asked about that lineup, said, “I don’t think it’s the right time to tinker with things a lot.”
Spoelstra has used mostly a small lineup in this series, but said he wouldn’t be opposed to using two power rotation players together. That would lessen the need for Shane Battier
to play power forward.
Bosh said he’s 99 percent healthy, and though he felt some soreness after Game 5, it was “nothing major. My timing is off a little. I made some mistakes. For the most part, I was trying to stay alert, be in the right spots. I will improve for Game 6 and make sure I don’t give up some points like I did. I had stamina. I’m fortunate to get one game under my belt before an elimination game.”
As for Anthony not playing, Spoelstra said only, “That’s the way the game played out.” Anthony has been the most effective of the Heat’s centers defending Kevin Garnett
, limiting him to 44 percent shooting. Garnett is shooting 50 percent with Anthony off the floor.
The fact Jones played 16 minutes, compared to Mike Miller’s
10, was surprising, considering Miller was ahead of Jones in the rotation when healthy this season. Miller is shooting 44.4 percent in the series (12 for 27), Jones 35.7 percent (5 for 14)
Spoelstra said Jones played the first eight minutes of the fourth quarter — rare for him — to get Battier more rest. And also, “he was giving us some good spacing, was able to take Ray Allen
.”This and that
• Ronny Turiaf
missed Game 5 with a strained right groin and is questionable for Game 6 but seems unlikely to play regardless.
• Spoelstra was asked about pundits saying he has been outcoached by Doc Rivers
. “My focus isn’t on individual coaching matchups,” Spoelstra responded. “It’s about preparing my team. … Doc’s a championship coach.” LeBron James
, asked the same question, said: “We’re got a lot of respect for Spo and all the confidence he’s going to help us win.”
• Rivers dismissed the notion that the Heat faces more pressure in this series: “Our sense of urgency might at times be greater than theirs. If not greater, then the same. They’re put under pressure because of the urgency to get it right with this group. We’re put under pressure because our window is closing.”