Boston Celtics

Spoelstra: If Bosh plays, it'll be off bench


Spoelstra: If Bosh plays, it'll be off bench

MIAMI If Chris Bosh takes to the floor tonight for the Miami Heat, he'll do so from an unfamiliar position - as a bench player.

In what appears to be more about strategy than uncertainty, Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Chris Bosh (abdominal strain) would come off the bench if in fact, he does play tonight.

Despite all signs and indications pointing toward tonight as Bosh's return to the court, Spoelstra told the media moments ago that Bosh remains a game-time decision as to whether he will play.

"We'll make an evaluation before the game," Spoelstra said.

If he does play, Spoelstra said it would be in "short bursts."

Spoelstra added, "if it's determined that he's not ready to go tonight, it's not a setback. It means another day of work and possibly he'll be ready for the next game."

Bosh suffered an abdominal strain in the Heat's second-round series against Indiana, and has missed the last nine playoff games.

In that span, the Heat are 5-4.

The Celtics have approached every game in this series anticipating that Bosh would be on the floor for Miami.

So the uncertainty of his availability is not going to impact the C's heading into tonight's game.

"It may give you an advantage, especially if you're not going to play him," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "The (other) 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."

NBA adds 'Harden Rule' and 'Zaza Rule' for players' safety


NBA adds 'Harden Rule' and 'Zaza Rule' for players' safety

NEW YORK - NBA referees will be able to call flagrant or technical fouls on defenders who dangerously close on jump shooters without allowing them space to land, as Zaza Pachulia did on the play that injured Spurs star Kawhi Leonard in last season's playoffs.

Officials will also make sure jump shooters are in their upward shooting motion when determining if a perimeter foul is worthy of free throws, which could cut down on James Harden's attempts after he swings his arms into contact.

The new rules interpretations are being unofficially called the "Harden Rule" and the "Zaza Rule". The Washington Wizards accused the Celtics' Al Horford of a dangerous closeout on Markieff Morris that injured Morris and knocked him out of Game 1 of their playoff series two weeks before the Pachulia-Leonard play.

Leonard sprained his ankle when Pachulia slid his foot under Leonard's in Game 1 of Golden State's victory in the Western Conference finals. After calling a foul, officials will now be able to look at a replay to determine if the defender recklessly positioned his foot in an unnatural way, which could trigger an upgrade to a flagrant, or a technical if there was no contact but an apparent attempt to injure.

"It's 100 percent for the safety of the players," NBA senior vice president of replay and referee operations Joe Borgia said Thursday.

The NBA had made the freedom to land a point of emphasis for officials a few years ago, because of the risk of injuries. 

Officials can still rule the play a common foul if they did not see a dangerous or unnatural attempt by the defender upon review. Borgia said Pachulia's foul would have been deemed a flagrant.

With the fouls on the perimeter shots - often coming when the offensive player has come off a screen and quickly attempts to launch a shot as his defender tries to catch up - officials will focus on the sequencing of the play. The player with the ball must already be in his shooting motion when contact is made, rather than gathering the ball to shoot such as on a drive to the basket.

"We saw it as a major trend in the NBA so we had to almost back up and say, `Well, wait a minute, this is going to be a trend, so let's catch up to it,"' NBA president of league operations Byron Spruell said.