Heat will be just fine with Bosh out… at least for a while

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We don’t know yet how long Chris Bosh may be out with a strained abdominal muscle suffered in the Heat’s Game 1 win over the Pacers. We know it was serious enough to keep Bosh out of the second half Sunday, but until an MRI Monday we don’t know how long he’ll be out. Thing is, abdominal strains can take a while to heal.

If the Heat are without Bosh for a while they will be good — they just shift LeBron James over to the four spot. LeBron had an amazing PER of 29.1 when he played the three but it was 37.1 when he played power forward (via 82games.com). The Heat’s starting lineup this year without Bosh — with Shane Battier at the three and LeBron at the four — was +3.3 points per 48 minutes, which is not as good as the team’s +5.9 overall but it is good.

The problem is not LeBron at the four, it’s who comes in when LeBron sits. And it’s what lies ahead of the Heat.

If Bosh is out for any significant amount of time, it’s going to put more pressure on Udonis Haslem when he comes in off the bench, and outside of on the glass he has been unimpressive in the playoffs so far. Ronny Turiaf, who brings a lot of energy and fouls with him, will get some run (especially against the Pacers and Roy Hibbert). Mike Miller is also going to have to step up and pick up some offensive load.

But really, it’s going to be more on Lebron and Dwyane Wade on offense — and that is why the Heat will not feel the pain right now. Those guys can do more. LeBron had a ridiculous game Sunday with 32 points, 15 rebounds, five assists a couple steals and just one turnover. Wade had 29 points. Those two are capable of putting up those numbers or better against anyone on any night.

The Pacers are a good team, they are going to win a couple games this series, but they simply can’t stop the Heat’s two big guns in the fourth quarter and Bosh or no this is the last stop on their playoff train this year.

The real concern in Miami is how long Bosh will be out, because eventually Bosh will be missed.

Where the Heat will start to miss Bosh is if they don’t have him to shadow Kevin Garnett in the next round (if the Celtics advance). Where they would really miss him is if he were still out come the finals. They will need all they have against an Oklahoma City Thunder that comes at you with wave after wave of amazing athletes. Or they will need him to match up with Tim Duncan. Or there is a long shot chance they will need him to match up with the size of the Lakers front line with Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, or the Clippers athletic front line as well.

Bosh may be the third part of the triad, but he plays a key role in some matchups, and the Heat will need him back these playoffs. So the MRI on Monday will tell us a lot about the Heat going forward.

Celtics’ Kyrie Irving: “It was a nice streak. But it was time to come to an end.”

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The Celtics established themselves as one of the NBA’s elite teams, a contender for the Eastern Conference title, during their 16-game win streak.

However, that hot streak to start the season will matter as much as Thanksgiving leftovers in the back of the refrigerator in April by the time the playoffs roll around. This is a team that still has work to do.

Which is what Kyrie Irving was getting at in this post-loss quote from Friday night, via Israel Gutierrez of ESPN.

“There’s still a lot to accomplish going forward,” Irving said. “It was a nice streak. But it was time to come to an end.”

This team still needs to get better and more consistent. The Celtics had to come from behind in the fourth quarter in eight of the 16 wins, and while the team defense was impressive the offense still can be hit and miss. Al Horford and Kyrie Irving play well off each other, but this is still the 20th ranked offense in the NBA. They are taking more long midrange jumpers than most coaches want, but the bigger challenge is they have not been finishing around the basket.

Titles are not won in November. Irving gets that. Jayson Tatum will hit the rookie wall at some point (they all do) and he needs to prove he can break through. Al Horford is playing maybe the best ball of his career and needs to keep it up. The Celtics need to keep their defensive focus (the fundamentals are there to have a top five defense). I could go on but you get the point, and so does Irving — there is a lot of work for this team to do.

Boston is off to a fantastic start, but it’s just that.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich: I’ve never seen injury like Kawhi Leonard’s

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Gregg Popovich is a basketball lifer.

He’s the NBA’s most experienced active head coach. Before that, he was the Spurs’ general manager. Before that, he was an NBA assistant. Before that, he was a college head coach and assistant. Before that, he was a college player. Before that, he was a youth player.

The San Antonio coach has seen everything.

Except the right quadriceps tendinopathy suffered by Kawhi Leonard, whom Popovich said more than a week would return “sooner rather than later.” Yet, Leonard still hasn’t played this season.

Popovich, via Michael C. Wright of ESPN:

“Never, never,” Popovich said when asked whether he has seen such a condition hampering one of his players. “What’s really strange is that [point guard] Tony [Parker] has the same injury, but even worse. They had to go operate on his quad tendon and put it back together or whatever they did to it. So to have two guys, that’s pretty incredible. I had never seen it before those guys.”

“I keep saying sooner rather than later,” Popovich said jokingly. “It’s kind of like being a politician. It’s all baloney, doesn’t mean anything.”

The 26-year-old Leonard is one of the NBA’s biggest on-court stars. He might be the league’s best defender, and he has built himself into an offensive force. The Spurs (11-7) have fared fine without him so far, but they’ll need him to accomplish their main goals – this year and beyond.

Hopefully, Leonard’s health is better than it sounds here, because Popovich’s answer sure isn’t encouraging.

Tim Hardaway Jr. calls fallen ref safe rather than defend shot (video)

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The Knicks went on a 28-0 run.

They earned the right to showboat late in their win over the Raptors last night.

Tim Hardaway Jr. called a ref, who slipped on the baseline, safe rather than contest Serge Ibaka‘s 3-pointer. Perfection!

Luc Mbah a Moute sets modern record at +57 in Rockets’ win over Nuggets

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Luc Mbah a Moute is a quietly good player.

He’s an effective and versatile defender. Offensively, he shoots 3-pointers well enough to score efficiently and spread the floor. Most of all, the 31-year-old just understands how to play and plays within himself. His teams tend to perform better when he’s on the floor.

That’s an understatement for Wednesday night.

In a 125-95 win, the Rockets outscored the Nuggets by a whopping 57 points in Mbah a Moute’s 26 minutes. That’s the best single-game plus-minus in the Basketball-Reference database, which dates back to the 2000-01 season. It tops Joe Smith’s +52 in a 2001 Timberwolves win over the Bulls, a 53-point game that also produced a +50 for Wally Szczerbiak and +48 for Terrell Brandon.

Mbah a Moute’s traditional stat line was impressive, though not overly so: 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting with four rebounds, four steals and an assist. He played well, contributing to winning in all the small ways he often does, and the Rockets happened to play excellently around him.

Now, Mbah a Moute tops the leaderboard in single-game plus-minus since 2000-01:

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