Heat is on Bosh

Heat forward Chris Bosh reacts after scoring a basket against the Celtics during Game 5 of the NBA...

Heat forward Chris Bosh reacts after scoring a basket against the Celtics during Game 5 of the NBA Eastern Conference final at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Fla., June 5, 2012. (ANDREW INNERARITY/Reuters)

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:10 AM ET

OKLAHOMA CITY - LeBron James is the engine that drives the Miami Heat but, for the first time, Chris Bosh might be the teams second-most important player.

With Dwyane Wade a shadow of his old self due to an injury that would likely have caused him to miss some time in the regular season, Bosh, himself just back in the lineup after a long injury layoff, has become crucial.

He sank a trio of threes as Miami fought back against Boston and gave the Heat a capable big man for the first time in that series.

The leading scorer in Raptors history remains a difficult player to guard and Bosh also has come through with timely blocked shots and rebounds.

He can stretch defences with his shooting moreso if hes nailing threes and helps punish teams for doubling LeBron James, since Wade cant take advantage of those circumstances the way he has in the past.

Its not yet clear if Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra is ready to return Bosh to his customary spot in the starting lineup, but his workload will increase as the days go by.

Ill consider everything by tomorrow night. I think he can handle more minutes, Spoelstra confirmed on Monday morning.

Well have to see. He was able to handle the 31 minutes (in Game 7). He had to come out a couple times because of wind, but I think each game well get better.

It will take the rest of the summer for Bosh to get fully right, but hes not making any excuses.

Its always going to be with me until the season is over, but its something that can be overlooked, and I can just concentrate on the game when that time comes, Bosh said.

He said he knew hed make it back, even though he was hurt in Game 1 of the Indiana series.

I just wanted to make sure I stayed with it mentally so that I can get back out on the court so we can have a chance to win this thing again, he said.

Bosh needed help from the rest of the Heat in order to have a chance to return from his injury and he hopes to pay them back.

We had our backs against the wall a few times, and (Im) really just proud of my teammates for not making any excuses. I mean, everybody could have made any excuse in the world why we couldnt overcome our adversity. But we did it, were here, and now we have a chance to capitalize on the situation.

If that happens, Bosh will be a major reason why.

MUTUAL RESPECT BETWEEN COACHES

When San Antonio met Oklahoma City in the Western Conference final, Gregg Popovich, the NBAs coach of the year, was supposed to coach the pants off of Scott Brooks.

Except that didnt happen and Brooks, the 2010 winner of that award, had a fantastic series.

Brooks had his Thunder looking unstoppable offensively and found a way to limit the effectiveness of the sublime Tony Parker after he and the Spurs started the series well. Now most expect Brooks to show Miamis Erik Spoelstra how its done. While that might happen in the end, both coaches hold each other in high regard.

Hes done a terrific job. The franchise has really been committed to their vision, Spoelstra said. Scott has been a big part of that in terms of the culture and the philosophy of how hard they play and the things that they do. Theyre well coached.

Brooks, a former NBA player unlike Spoelstra, feels the same way.

He has a great team, and we also have a great team, but I have a lot of respect for what he does and the preparation that it takes to be a coach in this league, Brooks said.

Its not always easy. Theres a lot of time, theres a commitment, theres sacrifices. But hes done a great job.

Both men have excelled at getting star-laden groups to play as a team, which is not always the easiest task in professional basketball.

One of the things I love about our guys, its always about the team. Thats all weve known. When we were coming up together, thats all we had is a group of guys in the locker room to support one another, and fortunately for us, we had a great fan base that did not boo us when we were playing and not winning a lot games, Brooks said.

We kind of just stuck together as a team, and we dont look at it as big one, big two, big three. And I think with Kevin, we know that hes one of our best players, and if I would single him out to the team like that, he wouldnt want that If anything I coach Kevin harder than the guy that doesnt play because Ive always felt thats the way it should be done.

That approach appears to be working for Brooks.


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