- Michael Wallace, ESPN Staff Writer
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MIAMI -- Chris Bosh insisted he felt 10 feet tall as he held his newborn daughter earlier this week and skipped a game in Toronto to remain in Miami with his family.
Bosh could certainly use the additional length when he returns to the lineup for Thursday's game against the Los Angeles Clippers and face their explosively athletic front line anchored by Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.
The Heat get their first crack at the new-look Lob City crew, which added coach Doc Rivers and a revamped supporting cast around Griffin, Jordan and catalyst Chris Paul to push them to the front of the Western Conference.
And Bosh is back just in time to get a close-up view of the high-scoring, highlight-making Clippers as they look to rebound from Wednesday's 98-80 setback in Orlando.
“I'm glad I didn't look at the game last night,” Bosh said of the Clippers' stunning loss to the Magic. “You could see they were a little sluggish yesterday, and Orlando caught them off guard. But we know we're going to get their 'A' game, because we get everybody's 'A' game.”
It's already been an emotional week with little sleep for Bosh, who had his most complete game of the season with 24 points, seven rebounds, two blocks and two assists in Sunday night's victory against the Washington Wizards. A few hours later, Bosh's wife, Adrienne, went into labor and delivered baby girl Dylan Skye Bosh at 5:55 a.m. ET on Monday.
Bosh missed Monday's practice and didn't travel with the team later that afternoon for Tuesday's game in Toronto. The Heat had the day off Wednesday, so Bosh said he's ready to get back to work and pick up where he left off.
“I'm able to just get out of the house for a little bit, play a game and then go back home,” Bosh said after Thursday's team shootaround as he sarcastically poked fun at his wife and youngest daughter. “I've got two women, you know, yelling at me now. So, it's a lot of fun [at home].”
Bosh doesn't expect to catch many breaks on the court from the Clippers, who average a league-high 112.3 points per game. Paul also leads the NBA with 12.6 assists a game. Bosh said he's already seeing a difference Rivers has had on the team during his initial weeks as coach after leaving the Boston Celtics following a successful nine-year tenure that included two Finals appearances and a 2008 title.
“Doc is going to continue to give them a lot of confidence, because he's coached at a championship level,” Bosh said. “He's going to motivate those guys to elevate their game.”
Of course, elevation has always been a vital part of the Clippers game, with Paul tossing lob passes that routinely result in crushing dunks by Jordan and Griffin. Rivers' main challenge is to improve their defense, particularly in late stretches of games against playoff-caliber teams.
“They didn't get the name Lob City by just rolling the ball out there,” Bosh said. “They have a specific scheme. We're going to have to meet those guys early. They have a huge upside in athleticism, they can really jump up there and go get it. So our ground game is going to have to be pretty good. But that's what we do -- we take [on] the challenges.”
The Heat also want to continue their efficient and aggressive offensive play from the past two games. The Heat regrouped from consecutive losses last week with wins over Washington and Toronto. Miami had 30 assists in back-to-back games for the first time since 1995.
Bosh said some of the keys to Thursday's game including playing at comfortable tempo that gets the Heat out in transition but without turning the game into a track meet. Miami is trying to kick a habit of getting off to slow starts. Defensively, Bosh said, the goal is to keep the Clippers as grounded as possible by forcing them to settle for jumpers.
Bosh, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have enjoyed their share of Clippers highlights the past few seasons. But the goal is to prevent Paul, Griffin and Jordan from creating too many new ones at the expense of the Heat's defense.
“We've got guys who make highlights too,” Bosh said. “With the SportsCenter generation, we know what's going to be shown most. But if they do make a great play, we take the ball out and we move on. We don't want to give up a lot of dunks because that gets guys going. If we keep them from doing that, it'll kind of take them out of their rhythm.”
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