MIAMI -- Everyone wants to know how the Celtics will prepare for the potential return of Chris Bosh, who is a game-time decision for Game 5 on Tuesday night.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers made himself perfectly clear on this topic when asked how much Garnett’s coverage would change if and when the seven-time All-Star takes the floor.
“Not at all,” Rivers said at Tuesday’s shootaround. “We’re not going to change our defense. We’re going to play the same way.”
Bosh has been out for the last nine games with an abdominal strain and the Celtics have prepped each game as if Bosh were taking the court. That’s just how it is in the playoffs; teams prepare for every scenario and every curveball thrown their way.
The biggest difference that Rivers foresees is Bosh’s length and ability to shoot over the top of the defense. The Celtics have been able to neutralize Udonis Haslem and Joel Anthony somewhat because they’re no more than 6-foot-8 but they have to play center. And they can’t shoot it like Bosh can; according to Hoopdata.com, Bosh led the NBA in shooting percentage from 10-15 feet.
“His shot and his ability to make shots will help them,” Rivers said of Bosh. “The difference is that because he’s a 7-footer, we’re going to do the same rotations, but when you rotate out to a 7-footer and the defender is not another 7-footer, it’s not going to affect their shot. With Bosh he’s going to get the shot off.”
Bosh will help in other ways. With no Avery Bradley available, Garnett has been instrumental in helping Ray Allen and Paul Pierce slow LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in the halfcourt. But Garnett might not be able to shade off of Bosh in order to rescue his teammates as much.
Rivers indicated that Garnett will continue to roam like he has in the first four games. Simply put, Rivers doesn’t think this team can or should change what it’s doing.
“Listen, we are kind of stuck with who we are,” Rivers said. “We couldn’t make a lot of changes even if we wanted to. It’s not like we can do a lot of different things. We’ve made some tweaks here and there, but we like what were doing so we’re ready for the next step.”
Garnett expects his role to change slightly, but he agreed with Rivers’ sentiment that they are who they are.
“Right now, I’m doing a lot to help,” Garnett said Tuesday before Game 5. “Our schemes will change a bit, but we know what we’re coming into. We have to prepare for that.”
The Celtics believe they’re prepared for Bosh if he comes back and some wouldn’t have it any other way. Celtics forward Paul Pierce actually wants the Heat to be at full strength.
“We want every team’s best,” Pierce said. “I think that brings out the best in us. We’re looking forward to it.”
Garnett knows a little something what Bosh is going through. During Boston’s championship season in 2008, Garnett missed slightly over three weeks with an abdominal strain and returned in a February game to tally four points, four turnovers and eight rebounds in just 20 minutes. The Celtics lost that February game to Denver.
Garnett remembers what it felt like to test his core muscles in a actual game setting, but is keeping his secrets close to vest in case Bosh might be looking for tips. When asked whether he had any specific memories from that game, Garnett made a simple reply.
“I don’t. No memories that I’d like to share.”