Miami Heat: 7 Reasons Why Chris Bosh Should Come off the Bench
They signed him up to a high-salary long-term contract with the view that he'd be the third and final part to building a dynasty in Florida.
Now, Bosh has been criticized, and he hasn't played for two weeks after picking up an abdominal sprain that still has not cleared up enough for him to return to practice and set a return timetable.
On his return, Bosh would expect to resume his starting role.
But should he? Would the Heat be better served with him playing off the bench as a sixth man?
#7: Bench Rebounding
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The Miami Heat's struggles with securing rebounds at either ends of the floor were well documented this and last season.
In last season's Eastern Conference Finals, the Heat were blown away in Game 1 by a rampant Chicago Bulls team that destroyed the Heat on the glass.
The same trouble was present this season, even with Bosh on the floor. Joel Anthony grabs 3.9 rebounds per game. I could do that for $4 million per year.
Bringing Bosh off the bench adds a big rebounding talent to an otherwise rebound-shy second unit, greatly enhancing it's chances of leaking out on the fast break or allowing second chance opportunities.
#6: Bench Scoring
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Along with rebounding, the Heat bench has struggled to score ever since it was put together after the summer of 2010.
Shane Battier can knock down a couple of shots per game. Norris Cole is hot and cold. Ronny Turiaf? Nope. Mike Miller is a crippled shell of his previous self, unable to sit court-side while he isn't playing due to the pain. Instead he lies down all the time.
Bosh is one of the league's best power forwards and one of the best scorers at that position. Starting on the bench would be new for someone of his caliber, but the 20 points per game he would bring to the second unit would be invaluable as the opposing defense wouldn't just be able to rest while LeBron and Wade rest.
#5: Second Unit Leader
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The second unit in Miami lacks a true leader.
Boston has Greg Stiemsma. Oklahoma City has James Harden. The Bulls have Taj Gibson and Omer Asik.
All of these teams' benches have an identity. In Boston and Chicago, it's stifling defense. In Oklahoma, it's yet more superstar-level scoring.
In Miami, the bench brings a lack of direction.
Norris Cole is too young, Mike Miller is too injured and James Jones does not play often enough.
Bosh would become the face of the second unit, leading it into battle and proving to be the rally point should the other second unit guys struggle.
Leadership of the bench is important as current opponents of Miami are able to make inroads into the Heat's lead when Miami has to play it's bench for longer spells due to rest or foul trouble.
#4: Favorable Match-Ups
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For Bosh, like any player, there are favorable matchups.
Should he return soon, he'd play against Kevin Garnett, who you would assume would get the better of Bosh's fairly soft style.
Similarly in Oklahoma, Bosh would be dealing with either Kendrick Perkins or Serge Ibaka if he started.
Off the bench? He'd deal with Nick Collison in Oklahoma.
A much more favorable matchup, one you'd tip Bosh to triumph in easily, is helping the Heat pile on points while the big two catch their breath.
#3: Ease Back in After Injury
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Perhaps one of the key aspects of this idea is that playing Bosh off the bench allows him to get back into the flow of the Playoffs by playing against the opponent's slightly inferior bench units.
This would allow Bosh to catch up on his match fitness while also making plays that help the Heat get closer to the NBA Finals for a second consecutive year.
It may also be prudent to keep Bosh on the bench for fear of him re-aggravating his injury by playing extended minutes.
#2: Offensive Focus on Second Unit
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Bosh coming from the bench would be—undeniably—the main offensive weapon.
This would let Bosh play more like he did in his time as a Toronto Raptor. He was one of the league's top big men who could score; he dominated the ball, and the team was his.
Now in Miami, he has two arguably better stars alongside him who dominate most of the shots.
Bosh playing off the bench would be the primary option, getting him a variety of good looks against non-starting level defenders.
#1: Preserve the Chemistry Between LeBron James and Dwyane Wade
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Because of that, Miami has now won four straight after going 2-1 behind in their series with the Indiana Pacers.
Wade and LeBron are finally on the right wavelength and appear to have peaked at the right time of the season, playing some of their greatest, most attractive and high-pace basketball in the country.
Bosh jumping back into the starting lineup completely changes how the chemistry between the pair works, as they now have someone on the floor who has not been playing through the tough games that James and Wade have.
Without Bosh, the two remaining stars are able to play the ball between each other, involving teammates when necessary.
Adding a third go-to-guy into the mix complicates things, as the other two stars must abandon their currently successful game plan in order to accommodate the returning star.
When LeBron and Wade both averaged over 32 points per game during the final three games of the Conference Semi Final against the Indiana Pacers, you know you have to keep that shooting performance as hot as possible so that it can be repeated.
Adding Bosh back into this risks disrupting the most lethal combination left in the NBA Playoffs.