C's preparing as though Bosh will play


C's preparing as though Bosh will play

MIAMI The Boston Celtics will continue preparing as though Chris Bosh will play for the Miami Heat tonight, even as Heat coach Erik Spoelstra remains non-committal on the all-star forward's availability.

After Miami's shoot-around this morning, Spoelstra said Bosh went through the entire shoot-around, but his availability won't be determined until shortly before tip-off.

"He Bosh was able to go through a workout yesterday; he was able to go through shoot-around today," Spoelstra said. "We'll just have to continue to evaluate."

No one knows if the Heat are legitimately unsure if Bosh will return tonight after missing the last nine games with an abdominal strain, or whether Miami is simply keeping it under wraps to keep the C's guessing.

Miami Heat players repeatedly said they don't know if Bosh will play, although all indications based on his workouts with the team point towards his return to the lineup being tonight.

"He looks comfortable in what we've been able to do," said Heat forward LeBron James. "I think we all know a shoot-around or walk-through practice is totally different from what we've been doing on the floor as far as game time. We'll see."

Added Dwyane Wade: "He's been out for a while. Whenever he gets back on the floor, it'll take him a while to get his rhythm back."

Celtics coach Doc Rivers has no idea if Bosh will play. But he has maintained that the C's have prepared as though they would see Bosh in each of the four previous games.

So from Boston's standpoint, knowing whether he plays until shortly before game time won't have any impact on them in terms of their game preparation.

But in terms of the actual game, Bosh's return has the potential to indeed be a game-changer.

"We definitely have to be aware. He's another big scoring threat for them," said C's Paul Pierce. "He can really put up some big numbers on any given night."

Added Pierce. "If he plays, he plays. We'll have a game plan for him. If not, we'll go as we go."

Even if the Heat do know one way or another about Bosh's availability, Rivers said he would probably keep it to himself until the last minute, too.

"It may give you an advantage, especially if you're not going to play him," Rivers said. "The team spends time, wasting time, working on if he's going to play. I would do the same thing. I wouldn't tell you until late. But I don't know if it matters one way or another."

WATCH: Celtics vs. Pistons

WATCH: Celtics vs. Pistons

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Celtics-Pistons preview: C's need to defend their top-four spot in East

Celtics-Pistons preview: C's need to defend their top-four spot in East

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- On Friday night, Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan absolutely torched the Boston Celtics. The game before that, it was Chicago’s Jimmy Butler giving the Celtics major fits with a barrage of baskets. 

Both were All-Star starters this year, the kind of lofty status that helps explain how the Celtics were so defensively-challenged in their efforts in limiting them.

Detroit doesn’t have a bona fide high-scoring perimeter star like those other teams, but don’t think for a minute that tonight’s game will be a breeze for the Celtics. Boston (37-21) comes in having lost two in a row to Chicago and Toronto, respectively. The Raptors loss was especially painful because it assured the Raptors would get the higher seed in the playoffs if these two teams finished with an identical record. 

Boston hopes to secure an edge over the Pistons tonight with a victory that will give them the season series, three games to one. While it may seem a bit early to get too caught up in tie-breakers and their importance, the last thing Boston wants is to finish the regular season tied with one or more teams, and wind up with the lower seed because they lost the head-to-head series. 

“You hear people say every game counts; it’s true,” Boston’s Amir Johnson told CSNNE.com. “We need to win as many games as we can because you never know which game could be the difference between having home court or not.”

If Boston continues to find ways to win and finish with a tie-free, top-four finish in the East, they will begin the playoffs at the TD Garden for the first time under fourth-year coach Brad Stevens.

Meanwhile the Pistons are currently eighth in the East and, like the Celtics, they too opted to stand pat at the trade deadline. And like Boston, they are looking for growth from within as they try to make their way up the Eastern Conference standings. 

“We’re not real happy with how we’ve played up to this point overall,” said Stan Van Gundy, the Pistons’ president of basketball operations and head coach. “But we still have a young group. As much as you would like the progress to be steadily uphill, it’s not always. That doesn’t mean you lose faith in your guys. At the end of the day, we ended up standing pat, which is pretty much what we expected to do.”

One of Boston’s biggest concerns coming into the game will be rebounding. It was among the many factors contributing to Boston’s loss on Friday. But as much as execution at both ends of the floor will be a factor, effort will be just as vital if not more, to the success of the Celtics in the playoffs. There were plenty of reasons as to why Boston lost on Friday night, with effort being near the top of the list. 

“They played harder than us,” said Celtics forward Jae Crowder. 

And that was surprising when you consider what was at stake – a chance to push their lead over Toronto to five games with a couple dozen to go.

Rookie forward Jaylen Brown has heard all the reasons and explanations as to why the Celtics have hit a mini-hiccup following back-to-back losses. And he has also heard how Boston blew a golden opportunity to beat Toronto with Raptors all-star Kyle Lowry still out. 

“We didn’t have one of our key guys, either,” said Brown, referring to Avery Bradley still being out with a foot injury. So it’s basketball at the end of the day. It doesn’t’ matter who is on the floor. You have to do your job; we just have to do our job.”