Bosh's Injury Doesn't Change Pacers' Plans

by Conrad Brunner

Miami, Florida – May 14, 2012

With all due respect to Chris Bosh, the Pacers understand as long as LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are still around, the Heat may not be at full strength but they're still plenty strong enough.

The news Bosh is out indefinitely -- possibly for the rest of the Eastern Conference semifinal series -- with a strained abdominal muscle did not set the Pacers into a swirl of new adjustments and on-the-fly changes to the gameplan for Game 2 Tuesday in AmericanAirlines Arena.

Quite the contrary, in fact.

"Our plan isn't going to change dramatically," Coach Frank Vogel said. "With Bosh in the lineup, we understand those two guys are major threats. With him out of the lineup, we understand those two guys are major threats. There's not a lot of difference in how you're going to approach the game. Obviously it helps not having Bosh's scoring ability out there but they've got other guys that can do it, too."

The Pacers fully expect to see more of James at the power forward position, where he spent most of the fourth quarter in Game 1 against David West. They also know that whether Joel Anthony or Rony Turiaf moves into the starting lineup in Bosh's place, they will be challenged to establish much-needed control of the boards at both ends of the floor.

The Pacers also anticipate an even more fully charged Miami effort to compensate for Bosh's absence.

"We obviously know the type of player he is but I don't think we had enough fight in other areas to give ourselves a chance to win (Game 1)," West said. "Going forward, we know they're going to be turned up a little bit more when you lose a guy like Bosh, who carries a significant amount of their load. It's an opportunity for other guys to get going and obviously more opportunities for their main guys."

Bosh is Miami's third-leading scorer (15.0 points) and leading rebounder (7.2) in the postseason. He also is shooting 51 percent, best on the team. During the regular season he averaged 18.0 points, 7.9 rebounds and shot .487.

A versatile inside-outside threat, Bosh plays a significant role in the halfcourt offense and that could be where the Heat most feels his absence.

"I think it weakens them probably in their halfcourt sets a little bit more because Chris Bosh can really score in the post," Danny Granger said. "Dwyane Wade and LeBron, they get out in transition. They score in the halfcourt as well but Chris is really their halfcourt presence. You could just drop it to him and score.

"We expect to see a lot more pick-and-rolls -- pick-and-rolls, pick-and-rolls, pick-and-rolls. I'm sure they're going to do a lot more of those."

Bosh was injured late in the first half of Game 1, apparently when he lifted for a dunk on which he was fouled by Hibbert. He fell to his knees for several seconds, made the free throw to complete the three-point play but then went back to his knees when he went back on defense.

Though Bosh had 13 points and five rebounds in the first half, the Pacers outscored Miami by seven points in his 15.8 minutes on the floor. The Heat outscored Indiana by 16 with him on the bench.

"Obviously they have played a small lineup with LeBron at the power forward some this year so we're prepared for that. We'll just see more of that," Vogel said. "And when they play with two bigs, we've just got to understand they're going to bring more energy and be more of a challenge on the glass. They outplayed us in Game 1. We've got to not let that happen in Game 2."

Perhaps the biggest problem presented by Bosh's injury is it forces James and Wade into even bigger roles in the Miami offense. They dominated the second half, combining for 42 of their 61 points, including 20 in a row during the fourth quarter.

Part of the solution would be establishing Danny Granger and Paul George as bigger, more active threats in the offense to sap energy from James and Wade at the end of the floor.

"The theme in doing that with a lot of great players is to wear them down -- and I think it's impossible to wear those two guys down," Vogel said. "I think they could play 48 straight minutes two games in a row and not be worn down. And you want to try to get them in foul trouble, which they're very good at not fouling. To overdo that can kind of take you out of your rhythm."

Granger and George combined for just 13 points on 2-of-15 shooting in the opener, performances well out of character for both.

The key lies not in running more plays for either, but being persistent in moving the ball from side-to-side. Miami's defense is superb at denying the first option; the Pacers believe they can be successful by finding the open man on the weak side. In Game 1, the ball stagnated on one side of the floor far too often.

If the Game 1 loss appeared in the immediate aftermath to shake their confidence, it seemed fully recovered the day after.

"This team, the year we've had, the makeup of this team, we always have confidence," Granger said. "You lose a game on the road in the playoffs, it's not the end of the world. You get back to the film, figure out what you did and make adjustments. That's what we'll do."

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