- Tom Haberstroh
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MIAMI -- After weeks of calling Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh out indefinitely, coach Erik Spoelstra now considers the injured Bosh day to day, and it's uncertain whether the All-Star forward will play in Tuesday's Game 5 against the Boston Celtics.
Speaking at AmericanAirlines Arena on Monday afternoon, Spoelstra indicated that Bosh has made significant progress in his rehab from an abdominal strain suffered in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
"It's premature to say he'll definitively play," Spoelstra said. "The reality is that this is not a normal situation. [The situation] is heightened and it is extreme. We have to be judicious in our evaluations."
Multiple sources told ESPN.com on Sunday that the Heat are hoping to activate the seven-time All-Star for Game 5 if he doesn't suffer a setback. Bosh declined to discuss his status following the Heat's 93-91 overtime loss to the Celtics on Sunday.
Bosh had three workouts in Boston on the latest road trip and will continue to be re-evaluated by Spoelstra and the training staff. The Heat did not practice on their day off after flying overnight and landing at 5 a.m. ET on Monday.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Monday his team has prepared each game during the Eastern Conference finals as if Bosh would be available and suggested Boston will be ready whenever the Heat bring him back.
"We have [planned for him] every game, so we don't have to do anything different," Rivers said during a conference call after the team landed in Miami on Monday. "We've prepared every game like Bosh is going to play, eventually he will -- it may be tomorrow."
After Sunday's loss in Game 4, the Eastern Conference finals is now tied at 2-2. Bosh has missed the last nine games and the Heat are 5-4 during that stretch.
"Our offense has changed considerably with him out," Spoelstra said. "We're making great progress on that end. In the playoffs against a great defensive team, it won't always look fluid."
Spoelstra said he didn't know whether Sunday's result will factor in his decision to activate Bosh in Game 5 or not. The obstacles that Bosh must cross are his comfort level and conditioning, though Spoelstra indicated that he would take Bosh's opinion "with a grain of salt."
"He said he was ready 10 days ago," Spoelstra said. "They all say that. I think league-wide right now, the four teams, there's probably more than a handful of players that wouldn't be playing right now [if it was the regular season]."
It's been over three weeks since Bosh suffered his abdominal strain in Game 1 against the Indiana Pacers.
In Bosh's absence, the Heat have used a revolving door trying to beef up the starting lineup. Dexter Pittman, Joel Anthony, Udonis Haslem and Ronny Turiaf have each started a game this postseason. While Anthony started Game 4, he was ineffective and Spoelstra chose to start Haslem in the second half of Sunday's game. Haslem finished Game 4 with 12 points and 17 rebounds off the bench.
"Nobody said this was going to be easy," Spoelstra said.
While Rivers admitted that Bosh's presence on offense will help stretch the floor and will likely prevent Boston from trapping Dwyane Wade as aggressively at the start of this series, Rivers doesn't believe Bosh's return will dissuade the Celtics from continuing to try to get Kevin Garnett touches around the basket.
"I don't know how different it'll be; I think Kevin's going to try to post up whoever they throw out there and we're going to try to post him up," said Rivers. "It's just another body. Chris is obviously very talented, poses his own problems, but I don't think Kevin will be that concerned with whoever is there."
Rivers said he doesn't think the Heat will encounter many issues reintegrating Bosh to the lineup.
"It hasn't been that long," said Rivers. "I think it's more challenging when he's been out a long time. For the player, you just want him to be him. I think a lot of players come back [hesitantly], especially if your team is playing well -- you kinda don't want to kinda get in the way. As a coach, you do want him to get in the way. You want him to play the way he plays, you don't want him to play any differently. I'm sure that's what they will do with Chris."
Rivers did think Bosh's return would impact the Celtics' ability to go small. While the team has found success utilizing smaller lineups, Boston will have to lean harder on bigs like Greg Stiemsma and Ryan Hollins once Bosh is back.
"One of them will play more, [the Heat will] stay big," said Rivers. "The fact that we've had success with the small lineup will probably change with Bosh playing -- they won't go as small. That'll change the way we have to play."
Information from ESPNBoston.com's Chris Forsberg was used in this report.
The Heat are now listing forward-center Chris Bosh as "day-to-day," and are not ruling out the possibility that he may play in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Celtics on Tuesday night.