Tonight’s Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals could be the defining moment of a Heat team built for the championship. If it again wins on his home court to take a 3-2 series lead, then much of the speculation will be at least suspended.
A defeat to the Boston Celtics would signal the largest panic alarm in league history.
How did Miami get here? The Heat looked strong, even without Bosh (abdominal strain) in handling the Celtics in Games 1 and 2 at American Airlines Arena. Strong, but not invincible.
In Boston, the Heat of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were a different, vulnerable club. Their weaknesses showed up for all to see, and James seemed to be operating with little consistent aid from anyone, including Wade.
With the series tied at 2-2, Game 5 in Miami places considerable heat on the Heat.
Bosh could provide some relief. He has undergone treatment throughout the series, and after various workouts to test his strained abdomen coach Eric Spoelstra that he is ready to play.
Spoelstra, however, is still undecided about Bosh’s availability.
“He’ll get a vote,” Spoelstra said. “Again. Everything is heightened right now. These are extreme circumstances. Everybody will be involved in the decision, if and when it happens. But you always have to take the player’s opinion with a grain of salt. They all say they’re ready. . . He said he was ready 10 days ago.”
The addition of Bosh, even in a reserve role, would give the Heat an additional weapon offensively and an inside defensive presence to defend Boston’s Kevin Garnett. The Celtics are under pressure, too. They understand the importance of winning Game 5 and getting a chance to close out Miami in Boston on Thursday.
But the Celtics are older and there was little expectation that they would conquer mighty Miami. They might not, but they surely have made the series far more interesting than most anticipated — especially the Heat.