Notes from Monday's Heat-Pacers practice:
### As noted in our previous post, Chris Bosh expects to be out awhile with his strained abdominal muscle. The injury sidelined Spurs guard Manu Ginobili for two weeks earlier this season. Kevin Garnett once missed three weeks with the injury, D.J. Augustin 3 1/2.
"This season has to be extended for me to play again," Bosh said. The Eastern Conference Finals will begin May 26 or May 28. (For more on Bosh's injury, see our full story on this to the right of this blog, on the sports home page.)
### During key fourth quarter moments, Udonis Haslem usually is more likely to be on the floor than any Heat player excluding the Big Three. But Haslem, who remains a big asset as a rebounder and defender, hasn’t played at all in each of the past two fourth quarters, and hasn’t been able to snap out of his puzzling season-long shooting slump.
Now, with Chris Bosh likely out for awhile, there’s an even greater burden on Haslem, who’s averaging 3.5 points, 6.2 rebounds and shooting 31.8 percent (7 for 22) in the playoffs. He went 0 for 4 from the field, with five rebounds, in 22 minutes in Game 1 against Indiana.
“I can’t judge myself on how I’m playing on offense,” Haslem said. “The way I look at the game is how I’m doing on the boards and how I do defensively. On the boards, I led us in rebounds per minute last series, and I intend to do the same this series.”
One of the great mysteries of this Heat season has been the decline in Haslem’s shooting percentage to 42.3, well below his 49.4 career average. Coach Erik Spoelstra said he has no explanation. “All I know is he has [made shots] in big moments,” Spoelstra said. “I don’t want to rest his value on whether the ball is going in.”
Haslem said he has not been asked to look for his shot more in Bosh’s absence. “I was fortunate when Chris was out before, I rebounded a little better, so hopefully I can carry that on,” he said. “But the other guys, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, will pick up the scoring load, so I’ll focus on the energy and rebounding part.”
Bosh missed nine games this season, including the last six. During three games that he missed after the All-Star break, Haslem had 20 rebounds but shot 7 for 22.
Asked about not playing in the past two fourth quarters, Haslem said, “I want to be out there, but guys have been getting it done in the fourth quarter. This is the rotation coach is going with. I support my guys.”
Spoelstra declined to answer directly when asked if he has considered moving Haslem to the bench and starting LeBron James at power forward. “All options are open,” he said. But James said, “I don’t think I’ll be starting at power forward.”
### The Heat is 4-5 without Bosh this season and 7-7 without him since the Big Three came together.
### Pacers coach Frank Vogel said when the Heat plays a small lineup – with only one natural power rotation player and James at power forward – “you’ve got to pound it inside. But even when they’re small, they defend the same way…. They have different lineups that are sometimes more effective than the lineup with Bosh in it. Their small lineup is very difficult to guard.”
Spoelstra went with that smaller lineup – with one natural power rotation player (usually Joel Anthony) – for all of the fourth quarter Sunday.
### A day after shooting 1 for 10, Danny Granger said he expects Vogel to find creative ways to get him the ball in better places. “It’s not brain surgery,” Granger said. “When you watch the tape, answers pop into your head. I’m fighting three pick-and-rolls. It’s taxing on me.”
Vogel said, “The plan was not for him to get 10 shots. Miami is probably the best in the business at taking away your first option. We didn’t execute getting good ball reversal to free him. He’s got to probably be a little more assertive.”
### Granger again reiterated that the Pacers “have to make [James and Wade] play defense. Vogel didn’t dispute that, but added, “It’s impossible to wear those two guys down. They could play 48 straight minutes two games in a row and not be worn down.”
### Vogel called Haslem, Anthony and Ronny Turiaf “three of the best dirty work guys in the business.”
### Pacers president Larry Bird told reporters than LeBron James "is just spectacular. He's our best player in the league. This is his time of year. With his body, his skill, his ability to get out and run and jump, I don't think we've quite seen anybody play his position who can do what he can do. We've seen scorers, we've seen rebounders, we've seen defenders but to have the total package... It's fun to watch him play... He took Granger complete out of everything he wanted to do."
### The Pacers committed 31 fouls in Game 1, compared to Miami’s 22. But Vogel said, “The officiating didn’t beat us in Game 1. The Miami Heat beat us. We fouled unnecessarily way too much.”