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Chris Bosh works toward return to Heat lineup

MIAMI — Chris Bosh is taking steps toward returning to the Miami lineup, though it remains unclear when the Heat will actually see their All-Star forward in uniform again.

Bosh, who has been sidelined since straining a lower abdominal muscle in Game 1 of Miami’s second-round series against Indiana, did what the Heat called a “very light” on-court workout Sunday. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra categorized the session as part of the progression of Bosh’s rehab program and continued to say there’s no target date for his return.

“I wouldn’t over-read into his workout yesterday,” Spoelstra said Monday. “We’ll continue to reevaluate him every day. He’ll continue to do his rehab. When he starts legitimate basketball work, I’ll pay attention a little bit more.”

Miami hosts Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics on Monday night. For now, the Celtics are more concerned with figuring out ways to deal with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

Still, Bosh is in the Celtics’ scouting report. And if he’s back at any point in the series, Boston expects to be ready.

“We’re prepared to see him,” Celtics forward Paul Pierce said. “If he’s able to come back, I mean, that’s great. You never wish any injury amongst your NBA brothers. You expect the best of them. And as a competitor, I don’t mind taking on the opponent team’s best. It brings out the best in you, I think, and it helps prepare you for championship runs.”

Bosh averaged 15 points and 7.2 rebounds in Miami’s first-round series win over the New York Knicks. He had 13 points and five rebounds in the first half of Game 1 against Indiana on May 13, getting hurt just before intermission when he stretched out for a dunk and strained the muscle. An MRI exam a day later confirmed the original diagnosis of a strain.

“His uniform is in his locker and we’ll be ready for him to go,” James said. “Other than that, we’re playing as if he’s not in uniform. It’s allowing us to focus on the guys that are in uniform, and it’s putting less pressure on him to try to rush and get back. It’s a sensitive injury. So whenever he’s ready, he’ll be in uniform.”

Indiana coach Frank Vogel said that Bosh’s absence helped Miami — in the sense that it meant more shots for Wade and James, who combined to average 65.7 points in the final three games of the Pacers series.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers shared a similar sentiment Monday.

“Obviously Bosh makes them better,” Rivers said. “But in some ways, you can say they’re more dangerous because now those 15 shots that Bosh had, they’re going to Wade and LeBron. So in some ways, they have the ball more. They’re more aggressive. It almost activated them to be more aggressive, which puts a lot of stress on your defense.”

Bosh averaged 12.8 points and 10.2 rebounds for Miami against the Celtics in last year’s East semifinals, which the Heat won in five games.

“They’re more Wade- and LeBron-dominant without Bosh,” Celtics guard Keyon Dooling said. “Those guys have really picked up slack. So in that aspect, they’re a little bit different. In the rebound category, obviously they miss him. His ability to make shots off of Dwyane’s and LeBron’s pick-and-rolls and stuff is something that’s missed.”



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