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Bosh ready to pick up the pace

Power forward declares himself at ‘99’ percent

By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / June 7, 2012
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MIAMI - While Chris Bosh isn’t quite at 100 percent, the Heat power forward proclaimed himself nearly there Wednesday - “like, 99’’ - in the wake of a 14-minute, 9-point, 7-rebound (6 offensive) performance in Game 5 Tuesday.

It was his first action in three weeks, since he strained an abdominal muscle against the Pacers, and he will be needed on a Heat team that faces elimination in Game 6 in Boston.

“You can do anything at 99 percent,’’ he said. “It’s just not 100. I’m 1 percent sore.’’

Bosh felt he could have played more Tuesday night, even though coach Erik Spoelstra didn’t play him a single minute in a critical fourth quarter that has put the Heat on the brink.

“Those are the decisions you have to make as a head coach, and I know after the fact those can always be second-guessed,’’ Spoelstra said. “But we’re treading in new waters right now, and he had been out quite a while. But he’ll play more tomorrow night.’’

Bosh, for his part, wouldn’t question Spoelstra’s decision-making after practice Wednesday. He also didn’t say anything to Spoelstra during the game about playing more minutes.

“It’s not frustrating at all,’’ Bosh said. “We had the right guys in at the right time. I can’t want everything in my first game back. I feel like I had more to give, but we went with our guys who have been getting the job done for the past two series.

“Hopefully I’ll be able to contribute a little bit more. But for the most part, we had our chances and we came up short.’’

Bosh estimated that he shouldn’t have a problem with more minutes in Game 6. His body came through its first test as well as he could have hoped.

“Everything is good,’’ Bosh said. “There was going to be regular soreness after the game, which I’m used to. Nothing major. Everybody feels it after every game, so I consider myself a lucky guy, and I’ll be ready for tomorrow.’’

One option for the Heat might be to play Bosh at center, with Udonis Haslem in Bosh’s usual power forward spot. It was a formula that seemed to work in April.

Of course, there were differences of opinion.

Spoelstra said: “It could happen. Now that we have Chris back, I don’t know how many minutes he’ll actually be able to play tomorrow, but certainly that’s an option we could go back to.’’

Bosh said: “Well, it’s kind of a unique situation to be in right now because that was April, and now it’s June. We’re in an elimination situation. I don’t think it’s the right time to kind of try to tinker with things a lot.

“That was April, that was a while ago. Things get better and better and tougher as the playoffs go on. We just need to stick to our game plan that we’re going to formulate for tomorrow.’’

Spoelstra said he wasn’t sure whether Bosh would be in the starting lineup for Game 6, though there would likely be more minutes for him. The coach said it would be based on how Bosh feels during the game.

“I just want to play,’’ Bosh said. “I think we feel confident in whoever we put out there. No matter what the rotation is or what the lineup is, we’re good enough to get the job done.’’

Haunted history

LeBron James was trying not to think about all the disappointing playoff losses to the Celtics, but they were hard to avoid Wednesday. James lost to the Celtics in the postseason in two of the last four years with Cleveland, though his Heat did beat them in the second round last season.

It’s part of what motivated the Big Three to form in South Beach, and now they’re facing the possibility of that same team getting in the way of a championship again.

The Heat have lost 15 of their last 16 games in Boston, something Dwyane Wade called “not our worry right now.’’

“We won a big one last year,’’ Spoelstra said. “You can look at it a lot of different ways for motivation. We know we can win tomorrow night. That’s the only thing we’re focusing on right now.’’

But, ultimately, it’s something that tends - fair or not - to fall back on James.

Wade has already won a title with the Heat.

James, meanwhile, has been frustrated by the Celtics. He said the memories come up, but he also said that Thursday’s game isn’t influenced by the past.

“It is fitting,’’ James said, of playing this game in Boston. “I know how much pain this team has given me over the years. I guess it’s only right that we would be going up there in an elimination game, and in order for us to keep our season going we’ve got to win in their building.’’

He added, “This is a new day, this is a new game.’’

Bosh cautioned against the history following his teammate, against the criticism and the questions about James and Boston.

“It’s a team sport,’’ Bosh said. “Guys have to realize it’s a team sport. It’s not just one thing. It can’t be all LeBron in the pot.’’

Breaking even

Asked whether he was satisfied with the Heat’s effort on 50-50 balls, something Spoelstra said in past games wasn’t up to par, the coach said that based on the team’s charts, it was about equal on loose balls. The Heat talked about a couple of plays that particularly killed them in Game 5, bringing up the block by Wade that led to the three by Mickael Pietrus in the fourth quarter. Wade, James, and Spoelstra all cited that play as simply a ball that didn’t bounce their way. “You have to keep on grinding, keep on pushing, and hopefully it does the next time,’’ Spoelstra said . . . Spoelstra said his team’s play in Game 5, especially late, was “probably the most efficient we’ve ever been against zone.’’ In 13 possessions, he said, the team scored 16 points. “Any time you get more than a point a possession, that’s excellent,’’ he said.

Amalie Benjamin can be reached at abenjamin@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.

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