Miami • This is the matchup Chris Bosh wanted in the Eastern Conference finals.
No, he might not necessarily enjoy going head-to-head with 7-foot-2 Roy Hibbert when the Miami Heat open this series against the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night, especially since the Pacers' biggest man is arguably enjoying the best postseason run of his career to date. And it's not because he thinks Miami will waltz past the Pacers, either.
It's simply because this is the series that got taken away from him last season.
Bosh got hurt after playing just 16 minutes of Game 1 of the Miami-Indiana second-round series in 2012, badly straining an abdominal muscle when he reached past Hibbert for a fierce dunk. He missed the remainder of the series, which the Heat eventually won in six games on their way toward the NBA title.
"To be able to have a chance to compete against these guys, I didn't get the chance last time," Bosh said. "I felt last year that I could have really made an imprint on the series. And it's funny how things come back around. I'm going to get another shot. So I'm just thankful to be healthy and be able to play and we'll see what happens."
There may be other matchups that command more attention going into this series, like the one between LeBron James and Paul George, or maybe Dwyane Wade and Lance Stephenson, or even the X's and O's chess match that will ensue between Miami coach Erik Spoelstra and Indiana coach Frank Vogel.
But the Bosh vs. Hibbert battle might be the one that decides who represents the East in the NBA Finals.
When Hibbert scores at least 14 points, the Pacers are 11-2 in playoff games. When he doesn't, they're 4-11. And while Bosh might not be the bruiser inside who can overpower Hibbert who's 3 inches taller and 45 pounds bigger than the de facto Heat center there is a simple way that Miami might be able to slow down the Pacers' center.
That would be to do what the Heat like to do most with Bosh on offense, let him extend defenses and exploit his jumper.
"That's worth a lot," James said. "When Chris pulls anyone out of the lane, his ability to shoot the ball is a huge bonus for our team."
"I'm just thankful to be out there," Bosh said.
Eastern Conference finals
Wednesday • Indiana at Miami, 6:30 p.m.
Friday • Indiana at Miami, 6:30 p.m.
Sunday • Miami at Indiana, 6:30 p.m.
Tuesday, May 28 • Miami at Indiana, 6:30 p.m.
x-Thursday, May 30 • Indiana at Miami, 6:30 p.m.
x-Saturday, June 1 • Miami at Indiana, 6:30 p.m.
x-Monday, June 3 • Indiana at Miami, 6:30 p.m.
All games on TNT