By Shandel Richardson, Sun Sentinel –
MIAMI — Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh sat for a third consecutive game, missing Sunday’s home regular-season finale against the Houston Rockets.
With two games left, there is still hope for Bosh to play before the playoffs begin. Coach Erik Spoelstra said Bosh has experienced “muscle fatigue” in his legs the past few days.
“We wanted to make sure we were proactive with it to make sure it did not turn into something more,” Spoelstra said.
Spoelstra said he expects Bosh to be ready for either Tuesday’s game at the Boston Celtics or Thursday at the Washington Wizards.
“We would like to,” Spoelstra said of Bosh returning before the postseason. “We’ll evaluate how he feels. (Sunday’s) workout will tell. He was playing at a high level. He’ll be ready.”
Bosh was one of four players to miss Sunday’s game. Center Ronny Turiaf was out for a seventh consecutive game with a strained hamstring while Mario Chalmers was sidelined with flu-like symptoms. Rookie Norris Cole started in his place.
Guard Dwyane Wade, as expected, was held out after dislocating his left index finger in the first quarter of Saturday’s game against the Wizards. He was replaced in the starting lineup by swingman James Jones.
Jones and LeBron James recently experienced similar injuries but neither missed any games.
It was the 14th game Wade missed this season. He had been held out earlier in the year with injuries to both ankles. He spent most of April in Spoelstra’s “maintenance program,” where players were rested with hopes of healing in time for the postseason.
Spoelstra said Wade is expected to be ready for the playoffs. He will likely continue to workout with the team while sidelined.
“When we get to the playoffs, we’ll know,” Spoelstra said. “That’s the only way to answer it. You can’t answer that unless you’re in the playoffs. There’s some swelling with it, but he’s going to be able to do some conditioning. We’ll see how he responds to that.”
Spoelstra said he remains unsure how he will handle the rest of the rotation for these last two games. James said recently he wants to rest at least one game before the playoffs. The Heat planned to evaluate it on a game-by-basis, factoring in the chances of them attaining the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
Those odds are slim after Saturday’s loss. The Bulls defeated the Dallas Mavericks, meaning they would have to lose their last two games while the Heat win out. Chicago finishes the season with games against the Indiana Pacers and Cleveland Cavaliers.
“Coaching staffs secretly hope you are playing for something because it takes the decision making out of it,” Spoelstra said. “We have to weigh a lot of different variables, and I am doing that every single day. We want to make sure we are playing at a high level. We’ve taken that step forward in the last 10 days. We want to continue to build confidence.”
NOT YET THERE
James has heard throughout his career. He won’t be considered among the league greats until he wins an NBA championship.
Count Rockets coach Kevin McHale among those willing to praise James, but who also realize his legacy is less sparkling without a title.
McHale said James has been the “best player in the league for years,” but won’t put him into the category with other greats until he wins a championship.
McHale won three championships while playing alongside Larry Bird with the Boston Celtics in 1980s. He said James will join the likes of Bird, Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson once he wins a title.
“He’s been a great player for a long time,” McHale said. “… All that is kind of solidified by winning a championship and until he does that, he will not be in that category just because those guys (won) and that is just the way it is.”