Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 5/28/12
MIAMI If you want to know what Chris Bosh is going through, ask Kevin Garnett. Big men Bosh of Miami and Garnett of Boston had been expected to battle in the Eastern Conference finals, which starts Monday night. But Bosh was out for a sixth straight playoff game due to an abdominal strain, and it remains to be seen if he'll be able to play in the series. Garnett suffered the same muscle strain during the Celtics' championship season of 2007-08. He missed nine games over a period of slightly more than three weeks, first sitting out Jan. 27, 2008, and returning Feb. 19. "It's very tough to come back from," Garnett said in an interview with FOX Sports Florida after Monday's shootaround at AmericanAirlines Arena. "Very tough. Very difficult. It's in the core of your body, the abs are kind of the parts to hold you up. Very, very hard to come back from." When asked how long it took him to really get back after the injury, Garnett laughed and said, "Too long." "But I muscled through it," said Garnett, who shot just 2 of 7 for four points with eight rebounds in his first game back from the injury at Denver but looked much better in his next outing, Feb. 20, 2008, at Golden State, shooting 7 of 16 for 17 points and grabbing 15 boards. "Everybody has a different tolerance. I don't know (how long Bosh might be out). We'll see how serious it is, and we'll see if he can battle back from it." Bosh was hurt in Game 1 of an East semifinal May 13 against Indiana and missed the last five games of the series. After dropping the first two games Miami played without Bosh, stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade combined for 197 points as the Heat won the next three to close out the series 4-2. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra called it a "positive sign" Bosh was able to do some court work Sunday for the first time. But his return is not yet said to be imminent. "He just did the next step in the progression of his rebab," Spoelstra said of Bosh's workout on the main AmericanAirlines court with Heat assistant coach Keith Askins, a workout that included some shooting. "There is still not a timetable, and it was a very light workout on the court. Really more it was a progression of his rehab than it was more of a basketball workout, but I can see how it would be interpreted different." "I wouldn't overread into his workout. We'll continue to re-evaluate him every day. He'll continue to do his rehab. When he starts legitimate basketball work, I'll pay attention a little more." Spoelstra said he prepared for the series under the assumption the Heat won't have Bosh. His players are doing the same. "His uniform is in his locker," James said. "We're ready for him to go (when he's able). Other than that, we're playing as if he's not in uniform. (The Heat have) to focus on the guys that (are in) uniform. And that's putting less pressure on him to kind of rush and get back since the injury. Whenever he's ready, he'll be in uniform." Abdominal strains are tricky because a player can be set back for a long period if he returns too soon. The severity of the strain also makes it vary greatly how long a player might sit out. Then-Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal missed 20 games due to the injury in 1997-98. But Utah center Al Jefferson didn't skip any games after suffering the injury last month. The 6-foot-11, 235-pound Bosh, who plays both power forward and center, and the 6-11, 253-pound Garnett, once a power forward who now starts at center, have similar sleek frames. And the length of time Garnett was out is about average for those who have suffered the injury. "I don't even know," Garnett said when asked if he expects to see Bosh in the East finals. "We're prepared either way." Bosh's injury leaves the Heat once again very thin in the post and costs them scoring and rebounding. Shane Battier, normally a small forward, has been starting for Bosh at power forward. The Heat also have power forward Udonis Haslem and centers Ronny Turiaf and Joel Anthony to help fill the void. The Heat were able to survive against Indiana without Bosh. But the championship-tested Celtics might be able to take better advantage of it than the less-experienced Pacers did. And Indiana doesn't have a post player as good as Garnett, averaging 19.2 points and 10.8 rebounds in the playoffs. "We don't cry over spilled milk," Wade said of Bosh being out. "We just want him to get healthy. The guys we got are good enough to win ballgames, and that's what we're going to try to do." Boston in 2007-08 got by quite well without Garnett, going 7-2. But that winning percentage of .778 actually was slightly lower than the team's overall percentage of .805 during a 66-16 regular season. Those on this season's Celtics don't seem to mind too much whether Bosh is back during the series. "They're good with him and without him, so we got to be ready," forward Brandon Bass said. "We're prepared to see him," said forward Paul Pierce. "If he's able to come back, that's great. You never wish any injury among your NBA brothers. ... As a competitor, I don't mind taking on an opposing team's best. It brings out the best in you." It also brought out the best in Pierce when Garnett was injured four years ago. Pierce averaged 21.8 points in the nine games Garnett missed, more than two points higher than his season average. Chris Tomasson can be reached at christomasson@hotmail.com or on Twitter @christomasson
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