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Bosh starts and makes a big difference for Heat

Chris Bosh #1 and Dwyane Wade #3 of

Chris Bosh #1 and Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat celebrate after the Heat defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder, 100-96, in Game 2 of the 2012 NBA Finals. (June 14, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty Images

Chris Bosh provided a lasting image of last year's NBA Finals when he dropped to the floor outside the Heat locker room and cried after Miami lost to the Mavericks.

Bosh may have provided another one for these Finals, even if you have to envision it because it wasn't captured by television cameras.

In the practice before Game 2, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told the starters to take the floor. Bosh, who came off the bench the previous four games, took it upon himself to walk on the court with the first team.

After that happened, Spoelstra said his decision was "cemented," and he finally made the long-awaited move to start Bosh in Game 2. His 16 points and 15 rebounds helped the Heat to a series-tying 100-96 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night.

"It's just one of those things where you know it's time," Bosh said. "I knew -- I guess -- what he was thinking. You can just feel that it was time to step up and be where I'm supposed to be and play how I'm supposed to play."

The Heat, which hosts the next three games of the best-of-seven series, including Game 3 on Sunday, are a different team with Bosh.

Miami went 5-4 when he was sidelined after straining his lower abdomen in Game 1 of the conference semifinals against Indiana. The Heat might not have needed six and seven games, respectively, to beat the Pacers and Celtics if Bosh, a seven-time All-Star, had been healthy.

The Heat's offense flows better when Bosh plays with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Starting Bosh instead of Udonis Haslem limits some double-teams that James and Wade see and opens up shots.

Miami started quickly in Game 2, jumping out to leads of 18-2 and 25-8 with balanced scoring. Shane Battier has taken advantage of the open looks he's getting with nine three-pointers and 34 points in the series.

The Heat can't expect Battier to maintain this shooting and scoring pace, but Miami expects James, Wade and Bosh to continue to play as aggressively as they did Thursday.

They totaled 72 points, including all but three in the final quarter.

"It's been so long since we had them all together," Battier said. "They played like the All-Stars they are."

New York Sports