Chris Bosh: Why Playing Time, Not a Starting Role, Is the Real Deciding Factor

Rob Mahoney@RobMahoneyNBA Lead WriterJune 7, 2012

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 05:  Chris Bosh #1 of the Miami Heat reacts in the first half against the Boston Celtics in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on June 5, 2012 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Miami Heat's biggest weakness is abundantly clear. As we take aim at LeBron James for this or that, Dwyane Wade for his yapping to the officials or Erik Spoelstra for Miami's perceived strategic failings, where the Heat truly lack is in the volume of rotation-level players. Beyond James and Wade, the number of quality contributors fluctuates on a night-to-night basis, and the absence of Chris Bosh only exacerbates that problem.

That's why all of the talk about Bosh potentially starting Game 6 for the Heat misses the more crucial point. Regardless of who starts, Miami needs Bosh to play as many minutes as he possibly—and reasonably—can, for the simple reason that there isn't anyone else. Udonis Haslem can provide a similar offensive impact, but isn't as reliable a shooter, as long a defender or as versatile a scorer. Joel Anthony can alter shots, but is a liability on offense and a sub-par rebounder.

James and Shane Battier have done well to play out of position, but both are limited as defenders when asked to shoulder such a unique responsibility. Bosh is the only possible player who can provide just what the Heat need on both ends of the court, and that's true regardless of whether he begins the game on the court or on the bench.

Bosh's 14 minutes in Game 5 gave the Heat a nice lift, but he needs to make more than a cameo in Game 6 if the Heat are going to extend their playoff lives. When Bosh is on the court, James and Wade have more room to drive, Miami's spot-up shooters have more frequent openings and Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole have another kick-out option. Bosh's talents expand the effectiveness of every player in a Heat uniform, and every minute he's able to play gives the Heat a better chance to win. When those minutes come is somewhat inconsequential.

Maybe Bosh doesn't start, and maybe he doesn't close. But he gives Miami an incredibly capable player to fill out and complete its rotation and offers a release for a team that's been forced to lean far too heavily on its supporting parts.