Posted May 14 2012 10:26AM
MIAMI -- It's time to concede to a higher power, to tremble in the shadow of such greatness and force, to recognize that this opponent will not and cannot be defeated here in these playoffs.
How can something so squashable -- a bug -- be so formidable?
When it's an injury bug.
When it creeps up, again and again, and whomps the league upside the head with the fury of a LeBron James breakaway dunk, what can you do? Nothing, that's what, except curse and acknowledge the obvious -- that these playoffs are being slowly tortured to death and you are powerless to prevent the carnage.
And so the folks in Miami holding these grand championship plans, and the TV networks warily watching the bottom line, and anyone who just wants compelling basketball this time of year will now await the verdict on the next player who left the court grabbing a body part.
We will see if the injury bug just put the kibosh on Chris Bosh.
Regardless of how you feel about the Heat -- and unless you live in the 305, you probably still think they're full of themselves -- can we all agree about the rash of injuries and how this stinks?
This is getting to be a bit much. You can suit up an All-Star lineup of those who were seriously injured just before or during the playoffs. Let's have Dwight Howard (back surgery) as our center, Derrick Rose (knee surgery) at one guard, Chris Paul (groin) at the other guard, Blake Griffin (knee) at one forward and now Bosh, with a lower abdominal strain, at the other. Coming off the bench: Amar'e Stoudemire (chopped-up hand, self-inflicted, but still), Iman Shumpert, Baron Davis and Joakim Noah.
Bosh went down in a heap after doing a very un-Bosh thing: He drove hard to the rim, spiked the ball through the hoop ... and fell funny. Seconds later, after making a free throw and then reaching for a rebound, he limped off the court just before halftime, never to return to Game 1, and now we're left to wonder if he'll ever return to this series ... or beyond.
"We all want to make sure Chris is healthy," said Dwyane Wade. "Our brother is going to go (today) to see if he can play with us, if not, we've got to have someone step up."
Surely, there will be jokes from the basketball congregation about Bosh and toughness, but this isn't the time for that. To paraphrase Drake, an ab strain ain't nuttin' to play with. It can get worse before it gets better, especially to those who refuse to give it a rest.
Obviously, the big issue is whether the Heat's championship dreams just received a kick just below the abdomen. We won't know the answer right away, maybe not even this series, if Danny Granger misses another 9-of-10 shots and the Pacers get outscored again by LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in the second half. All that happened Sunday when the Pacers squeezed their own windpipes and blew an upset opportunity.
Yes, Joel Anthony and Ronny Turiaf did scramble and combine to put up Bosh numbers (13 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks) but remember, that was only one game. And besides, this team has grand plans, and those plans didn't have two role players boldly written in the script.
If this injury keeps Bosh out for any extended period of time, the Heat won't be the toast of town next month. Just toast. Unless you insist LeBron and Wade can walk on water, cure the sick, bring world peace ... and win a championship without Bosh.
"We took it upon ourselves to put the team on our backs, with CB, one of our big assets, back in the locker room with an injury," James said.
True enough, the league MVP and Wade are certainly capable of delivering marvelous feats almost by themselves, as we saw once again.
Erik Spoelstra, the Heat coach, said while losing Bosh in Game 1 didn't put Miami "in a panic situation," he couldn't rest LeBron in a tight second half (James played all 24 minutes).
"We needed him. He made MVP plays on both ends," Spoelstra said.
Still, even getting past the Pacers without Bosh, or with a weakened Bosh, if it comes to that, will be a chore. Yes, Indy had nothing at the end of Game 1, but the Pacers controlled the contest until then. Here's the real concern for Miami, though: The Pacers' size and length was an advantage even before Bosh's injury. If their big men stay clear of fouls, which will be easier without Bosh because Miami has no other offensive-minded post player to guard, Roy Hibbert, David West and the other bigs can impact the next game (if not the series).
That would be an absolutely great stroke of fortune for the Pacers .. and crummy luck for the league. Not because it's Miami that would be vulnerable (although the networks would reach for the Pepto if the Meal Ticket gets eliminated this early) but because you never want major injuries to dictate the postseason. And that's what's happening in a season that started crazily and is winding up weirdly.
Should David Stern just hand the Larry O'Brien trophy to Team Injury Bug and be done with it already?
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|Jefferson Plays Through the Pain|
Al Jefferson returns to the game after leaving because of his left foot injury.
|Great Miami Ball Movement|
LeBron James kicks it to Ray Allen who dimes Chris Andersen for the big stuff inside.
|Cody Hustle Play|
Cody Zeller follows Gary Neal's miss with the putback bucket and plows in the crowd after the nice play.
|LeBron's Crazy Spin Cycle|
LeBron James puts Gary Neal in the spin cycle and lays it in with the left hand.
|James Spins and Hits|
LeBron James spins off his defender and lays it in.