This is the matchup Chris Bosh wanted in the Eastern Conference finals.
No, he might not necessarily enjoy going head-to-head with 7-foot-2 Roy Hibbert when the Miami Heat open this series against the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night, especially since the Pacers’ biggest man is arguably enjoying the best postseason run of his career to date. And it’s not because he thinks Miami will waltz past the Pacers, either.
It’s simply because this is the series that got taken away from him last season.
Bosh got hurt after playing just 16 minutes of Game 1 of the Miami-Indiana second-round series in 2012, badly straining an abdominal muscle when he reached past Hibbert for a fierce dunk. He missed the remainder of the series, which the Heat eventually won in six games on their way toward the NBA title.
“To be able to have a chance to compete against these guys, I didn’t get the chance last time,” Bosh said. “I felt last year that I could have really made an imprint on the series. And it’s funny how things come back around. I’m going to get another shot. So I’m just thankful to be healthy and be able to play, and we’ll see what happens.”
The irony of the play where Bosh got hurt — and where Miami’s title hopes almost evaporated — was that it was a sensational move.
He caught a pass from LeBron James near the top of the key, took one hard dribble, drove past Hibbert, outstretched his left arm and slammed the ball home while getting fouled by the Pacers’ center. The contact was minor. The result was a fluke.
Bosh felt intense pain around his abdomen and remained on his hands and knees on the court for several seconds after the dunk. James came over and tapped him on the backside. Mike Miller grabbed at Bosh’s arm, ready to pull him off the floor. After a few moments, Bosh slowly pulled himself to his feet and even made the subsequent free throw for the Hibbert foul.
The pain didn’t subside, and moments later he was gone — for the series.
Bosh returned during the East finals against the Boston Celtics, and the Heat said after that series that without him, they probably wouldn’t have even gotten a shot to face and ultimately beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA Finals.
“It’s big-time,” James said of having Bosh around for this series. “He’s an All-Star. Multiple All-Star. We didn’t have him last time we faced them. He’s the wild-card for us, the way he’s been rebounding this postseason and shooting the ball brings a whole new dynamic to our team.”
There may be other matchups that command more attention going into this series, like the one between James and Paul George or maybe Dwyane Wade and Lance Stephenson or even the X’s and O’s chess match that will ensue between Miami coach Erik Spoelstra and Indiana coach Frank Vogel.
But the Bosh vs. Hibbert battle might be the one that decides who represents the East in the NBA Finals.
When Hibbert scores at least 14 points, the Pacers are 11-2 in playoff games. When he doesn’t, they’re 4-11. And while Bosh might not be the bruiser inside who can overpower Hibbert — who’s three inches taller and 45 pounds bigger than the de facto Heat center — there is a simple way that Miami might be able to slow down the Pacers’ center.
That would be to do what the Heat like to do most with Bosh on offense, let him extend defenses and exploit his jumper.
“He’s very disruptive back there,” Spoelstra said of Hibbert, who had 21 points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots in Indiana’s second-round-clinching win over New York on Saturday. “He’s big, he’s intelligent, he changes shots, he sees so many pick-and-rolls every night, he knows how to do it without fouling. He’s, no question, the anchor of their defense.”
Said Vogel: “Roy Hibbert is the best rim protector in the game.”
Hibbert is most effective defensively around the rim so having Bosh set up on the perimeter — as he’s apt to do anyway — would serve two purposes. One, it would set him up for his preferred shot and would likely make Hibbert venture outside his comfort zone. Two, pulling Hibbert away from the rim could potentially free up some lanes for James and Wade to attack the basket.
“That’s worth a lot,” James said. “When Chris pulls anyone out of the lane, his ability to shoot the ball is a huge bonus for our team. There’s not many (centers) that can stretch to the 3-point line. I don’t know one besides Chris that can stretch to the 3-point line every night. So it works wonders for our team.”
Bosh said he’s eager for the challenge.
“I’m just thankful to be out there,” Bosh said.
This is the matchup Chris Bosh wanted in the Eastern Conference finals.
Colts Quick Hits: Tuesday, July 29
Notes,news and fun facts from Colts Training Camp at Anderson University on Monday.
Anderson hopes to make name with Colts
Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky was the first person Colt Anderson saw upon reporting to Anderson University last Wednesday. And he couldn't resist making the obvious connection. "Colt Anderson's a Colt ... in Anderson," Manusky said as a way of greeting the new Indianapolis Colts safety to training camp.
Colts release RB Rainey
Just two days after earning praise for his playmaking ability from head coach Chuck Pagano, running back Chris Rainey was waived by the Indianapolis Colts on Monday morning. The news was broken in a press release around 8:30 a.m. and later confirmed by Pagano during an afternoon session with the media.
Luck still learning
Wind chill estimates put the temperature at 59 degrees Monday morning at Anderson University. During one stretch of his fifth training camp practice of the year, however, it likely felt much colder to Andrew Luck.
- Lions star plays in national tourneys Liberty Christian senior Chris Nunn, a three-year starting guard for the Lions and Indiana Class Basketball Junior All-Star, took his talents on the road this summer,competing in back-to-back tournaments with his AAU travel team, Team Progeny.
Colts Camp Update: ESPN's in town
The first week of practice at Anderson University wrapped up Monday morning with the Indianapolis Colts working out from 9 a.m. to noon.
Castonzo comfortable with Colts' changing O-line
For all the changes along the offensive line the past three seasons, Anthony Castonzo has been the lone constant. He joined a veteran group anchored by center Jeff Saturday in 2011, was part of a remodeled unit in 2012 and became a mainstay at left tackle for all 16 games last year.
Colts' offense adapting to new arsenal
Third-year tight end Dwayne Allen suffered a season-opening hip injury in Week 1 against the Oakland Raiders, then watched as left guard Donald Thomas, running backs Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw and wide receiver Reggie Wayne also exited the lineup over the next six weeks. It left offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton scrambling to come up with new ways to attack defenses with an ever-changing cast of characters.
- Fifth Brickyard for Gordon Indiana racing fans roared their approval of the kid they watched growing up in open wheel cars as Jeff Gordon scored his record fifth Brickyard 400 victory Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
- Dorer scores JEGS win at Anderson Florida driver Steve Dorer has had career moments at Anderson Speedway, and at other times ones he would just like to forget. Dorer recorded the biggest win of his career when he passed Chase Elliott on the final lap in the 2011 Stoops Freightliner Redbud 300. The next year he flipped in Turn 1 during the CRA Super Series event. He scored another highlight Saturday night by winning for the first time with the CRA/JEGS All-Stars Tour event in the Edgewater Woods 100.|ANDERSON — Florida driver Steve Dorer has had career moments at Anderson Speedway, and at other times ones he would just like to forget. Dorer recorded the biggest win of his career when he passed Chase Elliott on the final lap in the 2011 Stoops Fre
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- Colts Quick Hits: Tuesday, July 29