MIAMI (AP) — Chris Bosh was moved by the raucous ovation he got when checking into the game.
The Miami crowd was largely silent afterward. And unless the Heat figure out a way to beat the Celtics in Boston on Thursday night, Bosh's return will be the last time his home fans see him this season.
Kevin Garnett scored 26 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, Paul Pierce scored 19 — including a huge 3-pointer over LeBron James' outstretched arm with 52.9 seconds left — and the Celtics moved one win away from the NBA finals by beating the Heat 94-90 on Tuesday night.
Boston now leads the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals 3-2, with Game 6 coming Thursday on the Celtics' home floor.
"In situations like this you can only focus on one game at a time, obviously," Bosh said. "We know what we have to do. It's pretty simple. No reason to really dwell on it and think about it a lot. We have to go to Boston and win, and we have to do whatever it takes to get that done."
James finished with 30 points and 13 rebounds for Miami, though he went 8 minutes without scoring in the final quarter. Dwyane Wade scored 27 for the Heat, who got no more than nine from anyone else.
Bosh played just over 14 minutes in his return after missing nine games with a lower abdominal strain. He scored nine points and grabbed seven rebounds, six of them offensive, on 3 for 8 shooting.
"I didn't see a great deal of rust," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "I think his energy, everything, was good."
Bosh checked in with 5:06 remaining in the opening quarter, the first minutes for the All-Star forward since he got hurt in Game 1 of Miami's second-round series against Indiana.
The Heat decided before the game that Bosh would play off the bench, something he had done only 12 times in his career, all those during his rookie season with the Toronto Raptors. Bosh got a loud ovation when his face was shown on the overhead scoreboard during the national anthem, and the crowd stood and roared when he walked to the scorer's table to check into the game.
In the end, the crowd was standing. Just this time, it wasn't to cheer — it was more out of shock. A Heat team that lost in last year's NBA finals and was favored to get there again this year is now one loss away from the offseason.
"I never thought we would be in this situation," Wade said. "I'm not really surprised by much. I've seen a lot. It's not an ideal situation for us, but we're not going to have any excuses. They beat us. They came in our house and got one so we're hoping to do the same."
Bosh began light on-court workouts about a week ago and participated with teammates in Miami's shootaround on Tuesday morning. It took one more workout, about 90 minutes before the game, to convince Spoelstra and the Heat training staff that Bosh was ready.
Spoelstra said he wasn't worried about the notion that weaving Bosh back into the rotation would be problematic, even with the stakes so high. And Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he didn't think Miami would struggle with that, either.
Rivers said if the Celtics had a situation where some of his key players, like Pierce, Garnett, Ray Allen or Rajon Rondo, had missed time but could play in a Game 5 of a tied-up playoff series, it'd be an easy call.
"I would do it. I think I would always do it," Rivers said. "I mean, listen, if Kevin, Paul, Ray, Rondo were out and they could play tonight and they hadn't played, I'd play 'em. I wouldn't even hesitate. I don't think really coaches hesitate on that. And number one, Bosh hasn't been out that long. It's not like he's been out two months and he's just coming back. He's missed, what, seven, eight games, nine games? That's not that long."
Bosh's return came on a difficult day for his family. Miami Beach police said a masseuse collapsed at Bosh's home and was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital on Monday night. Police did not find any signs of foul play, and Bosh and his wife Adrienne Bosh released a statement through the team expressing sadness for the masseuse's family.
"Last evening, a massage therapist that we have used for some time, arrived at our home to provide massage therapy," read the statement. "Shortly after she arrived, she fainted and lost consciousness. We called 911 and emergency personnel arrived at our home shortly thereafter. They took her to Mount Sinai Hospital, where she passed away. Our hearts go out to her family. We are very sorry for their loss."
Afterward, Bosh was emotional when asked to discuss the whirlwind 24 hours.
"It was good just to be able to do what I love," Bosh said. "I was happy just to do that. With everything going on, life happens."
On Wednesday, he and the Heat will leave for Boston, and Bosh said he — and his teammates — will be locked in on the massive challenge.
"It's going to be an extremely difficult time," Bosh said. "But that's what the playoffs are about. In order to get to where we want to go, we're going to have to face huge challenges. And I think we're in the biggest challenge of our lives right now, of our professional careers. We just have to overcome it. It's going to be very, very difficult. But that's how it's supposed to be."
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