Spoelstra not saying if Bosh will start for Heat
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Coach Erik Spoelstra isn't saying whether he'll put All-Star forward Chris Bosh back into the starting lineup or keep bringing him off the bench now that the Miami Heat are in the NBA finals.
Bosh started every game he played during the regular season and until he suffered an abdominal injury during the Eastern Conference playoffs, but played as a reserve in the final three games of the conference finals.
Spoelstra wouldn't divulge his starting lineup for Game 1 on Tuesday night.
"I'll consider everything by tomorrow night,'' Spoelstra said on Monday. "I think he can handle more minutes. We'll have to see. He was able to handle the 31 minutes. He had to come out a couple times because of wind, but I think each game we'll get better.''
Bosh missed nine games with a lower abdominal strain and has taken on increasing playing time since returning last Tuesday for Game 5 of the East finals. He played 14 minutes his first game back, 28 in Game 6 and then 31 in Game 7 - scoring 19 points and hitting three 3-pointers.
"Like I've been saying the past week, it really doesn't matter to me. I just want to be out there and we want to give ourselves the best chance to win,'' Bosh said. "So, whatever that means, that's what's going to work out for me and the team.''
PLAYING TOUGH: Don't expect Oklahoma City to try and rough up the Heat as the Indiana Pacers did in the East semifinals, earning technical and flagrant fouls in the process.
At least that's what Thunder tough guy Kendrick Perkins says, crediting his former coach Doc Rivers for the philosophy.
"We're not going to come out here and put on a front to show the world that we're tough,'' Perkins said. "Either we're going to play physical or we're not, we've got it in us or not.
"As far as Boston, I know they had it in them. But with Indiana, they were trying to prove to the world that they are physical. When you are physical, you don't really have to say nothing or do nothing crazy. You just go out there and play.''
So, does he think the Thunder are physical?
"Without being arrogant,'' Perkins said, "I think we are.''
WILLARD TRIBUTE: NBA referees will wear the number 57 on their jerseys during the finals to honor longtime official Greg Willard.
The National Basketball Referees Association said Willard - who wears the No. 57 referee's jersey - was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Willard worked games in this season's playoffs, including one just last week between the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics. He was set to call Game 6 of the Western Conference finals before he had to pull out.
The NBRA says it's doing so as a "gesture of support'' for Willard and his family, and is doing so in cooperation with the NBA.
Willard has been an NBA referee for 24 seasons, with more than 1,500 regular-season games, 120 playoff games and finals appearance since 2010 on his resume.
DRESS CODE: Oklahoma City All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook has made it a habit to show up for his postgame comments wearing unusual clothes, including a polo shirt covered in fish hooks and a glasses frames without the lenses in them.
He reasoned that he can see better without the unnecessary lenses in there.
All that is OK with his coach, Scott Brooks.
"As long as they keep playing the way they're playing, I don't care what they wear,'' Brooks said. "I don't care if they wear glasses with no lenses in it. I will always wear mine with a lens. But it's a good look. Russell can wear anything. He's great looking, he has an incredible body, great smile. He can wear anything and he's going to look good. I have to dress up nice to look decent.''
TIP-INS: The NBA announced that "American Idol'' finalist Jessica Sanchez will perform the national anthem prior to Game 1. The 16-year-old from San Diego also previously competed on "America's Got Talent'' at age 11. ... Even though Miami is the team making its second straight finals appearance, Oklahoma City - with home-court advantage by winning one more regular-season game - is considered the favorite in Las Vegas. "The fact that we're not always the favorite, I think is a great position to be in, but that really doesn't matter,'' Bosh said. "We were the favorites last year. Look what happened.'' ... Since joining the Heat this summer as a free agent, Shane Battier said he's learned how down to earth league MVP LeBron James is. "You guys don't get to see him like we get to see him in the locker room, on the team plane and buses. He's doesn't drink beer but if he did drink beer, he's the type of guy you'd like to have a beer with,'' Battier said. "I like beer, so I'll drink for him.''
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