By TIM REYNOLDS, Associated Press
MIAMI (AP) — Starting, not starting, it's irrelevant to Chris Bosh right now. He's just happy to be playing again.
Bosh said Saturday that he has no qualms with coming off the bench for the Miami Heat in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics, the same role he had in the previous two games.
Bosh missed nine games with a strained lower abdominal muscle, after getting hurt in the opening game of Miami's second-round series against Indiana. Bosh played 14 minutes in Game 5 against the Celtics, then played 28 in Game 6 — and Miami outscored Boston by 16 points when he was on the floor in that season-saving victory.
"I think it'll be irrelevant for as long as we're playing," Bosh said Saturday when asked if the start-or-not issue affects him. "It really doesn't matter for me. I just want to be out there and as long as I get to play, it doesn't matter. I think we have a good thing going right now and I'll continue to come off the bench as long as it's good. I'm going to have my time out there with certain lineups and that's not going to change my approach and how I do things."
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra did not change his lineup for Game 7, though he has raved about what Bosh has been able to do since returning from the abdominal injury. Miami started Shane Battier and Udonis Haslem alongside LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers.
"He helped us win (Game 6)," Spoelstra said of Bosh. "It's an extreme situation, bringing somebody back in the middle of a very competitive conference finals. He's very even-keeled in the mind. So if anybody can handle it, he can handle it."
Bosh has been slotted at times to come in when Kevin Garnett goes out of the game for Boston. When the Celtics made a small run — mainly by attacking the basket — to get Game 6 within 10 points, Bosh checked in to help defend the rim. Boston never got the lead under that 10-point mark, and the Heat wound up eventually winning by 19.
"It's not a normal rotation where you're slotting, 'OK, you're going to play this many minutes, you're going to come out and rest this many minutes,'" Spoelstra said. "It's on the fly."
Bosh has never been part of a series that went seven games. And until this series, he hadn't come off the bench since his rookie season in Toronto.
"I think we're in a situation where I'm not worried about watching my minutes or anything like that," Bosh said. "Just play the game. Whatever the game calls for, for me to play as minutes as possible, I'm going to make sure I do it and be productive when I'm out there.