MIAMI The absence of six-time all-star Chris Bosh on paper at least, is a good thing for the Boston Celtics.
But C's coach Doc Rivers coaches against players, not paper. He knows all too well that no Chris Bosh means more opportunities for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to dominate play.
"It almost activated them (James and Wade) to be more aggressive, which puts a lot of stress on your defense," Rivers said.
Since Bosh went down with an abdominal strain that has kept him sidelined for Miami's last five games, the James-Wade tandem has been in the kind of flow, the kind of rhythm that has been seldom seen before.
After Bosh went down in Game 1 of their second round series with his current injury, the Heat dropped two straight and fell behind, 2-1, in their best-of-seven series.
With an extra day off between Games 3 and 4, it allowed the Heat to get healthy both mentally and physically.
Part of that improvement involved figuring out how to fill the void left behind by Bosh's absence.
Sure, the Heat have a handful of big men such as Udonis Haslem who have been called upon to contribute more in his absence.
But the true turn-around for them without Bosh, has been James and Wade.
In the five playoff games without Bosh, James and Wade have combined to score 58.6 percent of Miami's offense. And if there's an assist made by the Heat, chances are pretty high - 63.2 percent high - that it was one of them.
Celtics guard Rajon Rondo says Miami has become, "a two-man team."
He added, "Those guys are unselfish, especially LeBron. They have to take a couple more shots per game, but they're still trying to find their teammates. When they don't, they make the plays for themselves."
So if there's any thought that the C's were catching a break with Bosh out of the lineup, Rivers and his players don't see it.
"When you have two players as dynamic as LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are, the last thing you want is for those guys to have more opportunities to be great, which is what they have with Bosh out," C's guard Keyon Dooling told CSNNE.com. "Chris is great player for them, but those guys (James and Wade) are smart, intelligent, very talented basketball players. They know how to play, and play at a high level, regardless of who is on the floor or who is out."
The C's have had their share of injuries all season. And while some might believe those injuries made the Celtics worse off, Rivers has a slightly different take on the matter.
"I don't know what the difference is (without Bosh)," Rivers said. "But just like our guys, (being injured) changes you. It shouldn't make you worse, it should just make you different."