Can Heat play through Bosh’s abdominal pain?

bosh_strainDouble over and clutching his stomach in the second quarter.

This could be the lasting memory Miami Heat fans have of Chris Bosh for the foreseeable future, or at least during the second round of the NBA Playoffs.

Before entering Sunday’s Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals between Miami and the Indiana Pacers, these were two teams who have remained injury-free during the playoffs but that all changed when Bosh was forced to miss the entire second half with a strained abdominal muscle.

And while LeBron James and Dwyane Wade did the heavy lifting for Miami as the Heat defeated Indiana, 95-86, at AmericanAirlines Arena, the focus now shifts to Bosh’s health and the pending MRI.

“We don’t know about Chris,” said Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra after Sunday’s game. “We won’t know anything until the MRI.”

This much we do know: Miami will need another impressive tag-team performance from Joel Anthony and Ronny Turiaf if Bosh is not available. And now we know that Bosh’s MRI revealed a strained abdominal and that Bosh will be out indefinitely, leaving that hole in Miami’s lineup.

Looking back, this was a game Indiana should have won. The Pacers led by as many as nine in the first half thanks to David West and Roy Hibbert pushing the Pacers and both guys finished with 17 points each. And before Bosh went down in the second quarter after dunking and landing awkwardly, he was the most productive player for Miami with 13 points and 5 rebounds.

This is not a knock on Anthony and Turiaf, who utilized their energy off the bench and combined for 13 points and 10 rebounds, but can they sustain the production to match West and Hibbert during a long seven-game series if Bosh is down and out for good?

The loss of Bosh for any longer period of time no doubt will hurt the Heat on both ends of the floor. They can only pray it does not come to that point.

Yes, James and Wade can hold down the fort even against an inspired Indiana Pacers, but the Heat are always better off having Bosh in the mix than going about trying to win a championship without him.

The MRI will be very telling, but much depends on the severity of the strain. As NBA history shows, different players react and respond differently to abdominal strains.

In early April, Al Jefferson of the Utah Jazz twice suffered an abdominal strain in a win over the Golden State Warriors and did not miss anytime. Steve Nash had a similar situation. He played through the pain in 2010 after being hampered with a lower abdominal strain.

Those are two positive examples. Then there is the other side of the injury.

This season for the San Antonio Spurs, Manu Ginobili was out for two weeks. While back in 2010, Peja Stojakovic missed two weeks with a lower abdominal strain. Kevin Garnett went a week longer in 2008 when he was was sidelined for around three weeks and at times did not even travel with the Boston Celtics on the road due to the injury.

Still, the Jefferson and Nash history lesson can at least provide a brief glimmer of hope for Miami.

There remains the chance that Bosh could be a game-time decision on Tuesday for Game 2 and perhaps even play in the end.

It all comes down to the MRI if Bosh will be MIA for Miami.