Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 5/24/12
Look on the bright side. At least Juwan Howard is younger than Jamie Moyer. It might only seem the Miami Heat are out of power forwards heading into Thursday's playoff game at Indiana. But there waiting in the wings is Juwan Howard, 39, who actually finally did score Tuesday for the first time in this postseason. It might have to come down to Howard getting some time for the Heat in Game 6 of their East semifinal. Starting power forward Chris Bosh remains out with an abdominal strain and backup power forward Udonis Haslem will serve a one-game suspension for his flagrant clocking of Pacers forward Tyler Hansbrough in the Tuesday game the Heat won 115-83 to take a 3-2 series lead. You can't say Howard isn't well rested. Howard, who's had one double-figure scoring game in the playoffs since the end of the 2000-01 season, has logged a grand total of 11 minutes this postseason. The Heat don't have a lot of places to turn as they go against a big team with hardly any big guys themselves. Also suspended Thursday is center Dexter Pittman, serving a three-game penalty for his flagrant walloping Tuesday of Pacers guard Lance Stephenson. Pittman might not be considered a big loss, but Heat coach Erik Spoelstra did think enough of him to actually start the big fellow in Game 3. It must be said, though, it was a disastrous three-minute stint. The Heat seem quite content to make things difficult on themselves in this series against the rugged Pacers. Check that. Team president Larry Bird, just called them "soft." Make it, the pesky Pacers. The Heat fell behind 2-1 and would have been on the verge of extinction had they not won last Sunday at Indiana. They did. But who was the third guy that day who needed to come through along with stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, who combined for 70 points? It was Haslem, who scored 14 points off the bench in the 101-93 triumph. Haslem had another nifty outing in Game 5, scoring 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting and grabbing six rebounds. But he'll be spending Thursday night in his Indianapolis hotel room. "We can't afford to lose anyone," James had said before Haslem's suspension was announced Wednesday night. "We already have a big piece of our team out (in Bosh). And UD's been playing some great ball the last few games." No, it's not disaster for the Heat that Haslem is out. They still can lose Game 6 and claim the series Saturday at home after Haslem has returned. But it would be a very nice opportunity lost if the Heat don't win Thursday to wrap up the series. That would deny them the chance to rest during the weekend while Boston and Philadelphia slug it out Saturday in Game 7 of an East semifinal for the right to meet the Miami-Indiana winner in the East final that starts Monday. "We're a resilient group," Heat forward Shane Battier said Wednesday night. "We're going to put together an effort that will make Udonis and Dexter proud." And why wouldn't Battier, who is usually a small forward but will start out Thursday guarding Indiana power forward David West, be confident? He has James and Wade on his side. Unless the Pacers can figure out how to slightly slow down the pair, the Heat certainly have a chance to get that coveted weekend off. The two have combined for 128 points the past two games while combining to shoot 49-of-86 (57 percent). James will have to play even more at power forward, but he doesn't seem to mind. Maybe he also can get some work in at center, where all the Heat have is Ronny Turiaf, Joel Anthony and Eddy Curry, who actually could be activated in Game 6 for the first time this postseason. It would be hard to imagine one of them being on the floor in a last-second situation, and it might really be a disaster for the Heat if Curry has to play at all Thursday. The Heat, who only can activate 11 players due to the two suspensions and might make guard Terrel Harris the only inactive guy, also can go small by utilizing lineups with swingmen Mike Miller and James Jones. They're good three-point shooters who can spread the floor. If there really is a need to get a real power forward in the game at times, it could be time to dust off Juwan Howard. He did score 42 points in the regular season, which is at least one more than James had in his best game of the campaign. And Howard does have a playoff career-high of 21 points. OK, so it was in 1997. But if Howard can grab a few rebounds and play several minutes of crafty defense Thursday, he just might be able to help the Heat. After all, if Moyer, a 49-year-old Colorado Rockies pitcher, can strike out guys these days with a 78-mph fastball, anything's possible. Chris Tomasson can be reached at christomasson@hotmail.com or on Twitter @christomasson
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