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NBA Playoffs 2012: Chris Bosh's Status Will Determine Miami's Fate

MIAMI, FL - MAY 11: Chris Bosh #1 of the Miami Heat celebrates after defeating the Boston Celtics in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2011 NBA Playoffs against the Boston Celtics at American Airlines Arena on May 11, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Ben AxelrodBig Ten Lead WriterJune 5, 2012

When LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh joined forces in the Summer of 2010, it was with the sole purpose of winning NBA championships. Not one, not two, not three, but multiple championships.

But there's a problem with building a team that relies on three players, and only three players. That problem is that players get hurt, just as Bosh did in the Heat's second-round series with the Indiana Pacers.

Since Bosh traded in his Heat jersey for a nice pair of peach pants, the Heat managed to escape past the Pacers in six games, but now find themselves all tied up at 2-2 against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. And with the series essentially reset to a best-of-three, the Heat are hoping that the return of their big man will be enough to send them to their second consecutive NBA Finals.

Bosh has officially been ruled as a game-time decision for tonight's pivotal Game 5 against the Celtics, but every indication out the Biscayne Bay is that the former Toronto Raptors star will be lacing up his Nikes for tonight's 8:30 p.m. tip-off. That is just what the Heat need after losing consecutive games in Boston after taking a 2-0 series lead early last week.

No one is ever going to argue that Bosh is the heart and soul of the Heat—that distinction belongs to Wade and to a lesser extent, Udonis Haslem. Nor are they going argue that he's the team's best player—that's this year's regular season MVP, LeBron James. But what is clear with Bosh, and has been made clearer by his absence, is that he's the key to making the Heat work as a whole.

While James and Wade are two of the most dominant players on this planet, they dominate in a way that is very similar to each other. Almost too similar. What the Heat needs is a player to compliments those two in their driving and kicking, and Bosh is almost the perfect player to do that. He's 6-foot-11, can shoot from the perimeter, and bang inside when he needs to. He's not an MVP candidate, but he is an All-Star, and he brings something to the Heat that Ronny Turiaf, Shane Battier, and Joel Anthony haven't been able to in his absence.

Should he be matched up with Celtics center Kevin Garnett, as he's expected to, Bosh will draw the series' most dominant defender outside of the paint and open lanes for both James and Wade that haven't been there in any of the series' first four games. That's something that could be very scary for the Celtics and their hopes at one last run at an NBA Title with the original Big Three.

But should Bosh not be able to go tonight, or go at the level the Heat expected from him when they spent more than $100 million on him more than a season ago, don't be surprised to see the Heat fall short of their original goal for the second consecutive season.

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