Breaking Down Chris Bosh's Importance to Miami Heat Success
The big man returned to the starting lineup and recorded his first double-double in two months on Thursday night as the Heat blazed out to an early lead and continued to stoke the fire throughout Game 2.
While LeBron James and Dwyane Wade—and Shane Battier to a lesser extent—stole the show, as they always seem to do, Bosh labored away just outside the spotlight and contributed massively to Miami's efforts in evening up the series.
Let's break down the areas in which he has a major impact.
Spreading the Floor
Bosh is a unique talent on the offensive end of the court because of his ability to space out the Miami Heat offense. He's a threat from the block, but his primary contributions come with his face-up jumper.
Unlike most players just an inch shy of hitting the elusive seven-foot mark, Bosh can drain shots from anywhere in the half-court set. He might be a little overconfident in his shooting ability from downtown, especially after hitting a trio of triples in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals—especially now that he's just 1-of-4 from downtown in the NBA Finals—but it's his confidence that inspires fear in the defense.
Serge Ibaka is the primary shot-blocker for the Oklahoma City Thunder, and he's spent a lot of time attempting to guard Bosh throughout the first two games of the series. When Bosh spreads out the floor and extends Ibaka's responsibility out to the perimeter, he partially negates the defensive impact that his man can make.
Ibaka still managed to swat away five shots in Game 2, but that total could have been higher if Bosh had been less of a threat.
For an example of how Bosh's spreading the floor benefits other players, look at the progression of screenshots and read the captions.
Taking the Pressure Off
The Miami Heat were built as a "Big Three" with a supporting cast of role players. James, Wade and Bosh were supposed to be those three stars that carried the team through thick and thin, but Bosh hasn't been able to step up lately because of his abdominal injury.
During that time, Wade and James were pressured to do even more and carry the team to the NBA Finals basically on their own. They did so, but at what expense?
James had to ask for more rest, and Wade's performance went downhill as the two stars had to shoulder a burden that no two men should be forced to deal with.
With Bosh back and becoming a major contributor out of the starting lineup once more, that weight is partially lifted. Make no mistake though—Wade and James still have to play remarkably well for this team to win.
They just have to play slightly less remarkably well.
In Game 2 against the Thunder, Bosh became the first player in Miami Heat history to record at least 15 points and 15 rebounds in a single NBA Finals game, and the team needed every bit of his efforts.
Crashing the Boards
The most important benefit that the Heat receive from the play of Chris Bosh is his help crashing the boards.
Oklahoma City typically plays with two big men who stand much bigger and stronger than the Heat's frontcourt. Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins start the game at power forward and center, respectively, while Nick Collison comes off the bench and provides too much hustle to handle.
The Heat though are stuck with a small lineup in order to maximize their effectiveness. LeBron slides over to power forward while Bosh mans the 5, and the lineup is quite undersized.
LeBron is a great pound-for-pound rebounder, but Bosh is the one who makes the difference. If he's pulling down rebound after rebound, it lessens the impact that Udonis Haslem and Joel Anthony need to make off the bench which enables Bosh to play more minutes and score more points.
Bosh was about as effective as can be on the glass Monday night (Amar'e Stoudemire notwithstanding), pulling down 15 rebounds in the game, seven of which came on the offensive glass. Now, if he can finish the second-chance opportunities with more success he'll be even more valuable.
The Heat were out-rebounded by 20 in Game 1, but Bosh's efforts helped them turn the tables and grab four more boards than the Thunder in a victorious Game 2.
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