Chris Bosh defends against the Celtics' Kevin Garnett in the third quarter.
Game 6 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals between the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics at TD Garden in Boston on Thursday, June 7, 2012.
Chris Bosh spent a considerable amount of time Thursday watching LeBron James go off on the Boston Celtics. But, for a good part of it, Bosh was doing so while positioned on the court instead of admiring the one-man show as a distant spectator.
Its a welcome development for the Heat, which forced a deciding Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals with its emphatic 98-79 victory over the Celtics. Although Bosh didnt put up his usual numbers, finishing with only seven points and six rebounds, his workload doubled as he continued to work his way back from injury.
I just told [coach Erik Spoelstra], whatever it takes to win, play me as much as possible, Bosh said. I know its not going to be all pretty out there. But I just want to be out there scrapping with my teammates. Thats whats important to me.
Bosh was on the court for 28 minutes Thursday, or exactly twice his playing time in Game 5 when he returned to action following an abdominal injury that caused him to miss nine consecutive playoff contests.
Thats good news for the Heat, which clearly missed the third member of the Big 3.
As Bosh said before Thursdays game: Its put up or shut up. [Trainers] have been asking me how I feel and I say, Whatever it takes. There is no tomorrow right now, so we have to play like it.
The Heat did that, and did it with authority, refusing the Celtics or their fans to celebrate a conference title on the parquet floor at TD Garden under Bostons 17 championship banners.
Before, we didnt have the same urgency we had [Thursday], Bosh said.
For the second game in a row, Bosh wasnt on the court for the opening tipoff, though theres a real chance that could change in Game 7 on Saturday in Miami.
But Spoelstra didnt wait long in bringing Bosh off the bench, sending him in midway through the first quarter with the Heat leading 12-8. And just as Spoelstra said he would, he expanded Boshs minutes.
I dont think hell be able to play his normal load, particularly at the pace, and how competitive and how physical this series is, Spoelstra warned shortly before Game 6. Id like to play him where hes not quite to the point of exhaustion.
Bosh, logging extensive minutes for the first time since May 13, didnt look winded. Nor did he appear too terribly restricted by the abdominal injury that caused him to miss a chunk of the Heats playoff series with the Pacers and Celtics.
Then again, with James scoring almost at will in the first half, Bosh like the rest of his Heat teammates assumed more of a complementary presence. He scored his first points off a lob and nailed a jumper to give the Heat a 12-point lead with a minute to go in the first quarter. He did not score again until the fourth.
In one second-quarter sequence, Bosh blocked a shot at one end of the floor and hauled in an offensive rebound at the other. Bosh also was a big reason why the Heat was able to contain Kevin Garnett, who finished with 12 points and five rebounds.
Garnett has been doing a great job of just roaming around and messing up our offense, Bosh said. I have to do my best to keep him honest. I know theyre going to stick with their game plan and thats going to force me to knock down some shots. I have to be aggressive. Im going to have open looks and Im going to knock them down.
Bosh didnt make many shots, or even take many, going 3 for 8 from the field.
But his impact and presence was much greater than it has been in weeks, when the only thing Bosh could do was watch from a distance.