LeBron James, Miami Heat: Has Chris Bosh Been the Key To the Heat's Turnaround?

Lance MorrisonCorrespondent IJanuary 6, 2011

Bosh Taking it to the Hole
Bosh Taking it to the HoleBob Levey/Getty Images

To his credit, Dwayne Wade made no excuses for his role in the Heat's disappointing 9-8 start. He didn't have to. Heat fans handled that little piece of business for their beloved superstar, and it was the least they could do after all Wade has done for them.

LeBron James carried the Heat through that stretch by playing, well, like LeBron James. Carrying the Heat wasn't difficult for James after having seven years practice carrying the Cavaliers.

Since Wade was untouchable and James was being James, when the time came to assign blame for the Heat's early season woes, the fans and the media placed the burden of responsibility squarely on the slender shoulders of Chris Bosh.

Bosh got off to a slow start, but by the end of November he was averaging 19.4 PPG. That is very respectable for the third scoring option in any league, anywhere.

The reason Bosh got the blame for Miami's less than auspicious launching was not the number of points he was scoring, but how he scored them. Bosh was tentative, almost shy about going into the paint. He settled for a lot of jump shots and was not being aggressive going to the rim.

The Heat have no low post up offense of which to speak. When their power forward is settling for jump shots, the team's spacing suffers and their offense is stagnant. It's also very difficult to get offensive rebounds from 17 feet out.

Bosh appeared bewildered, befuddled and bereft of hope on defense. Then the worst happened: the Celtics 6'1" point guard Rajon Rondo dunked right in Bosh's mug piece, and all Bosh could do was turn away in shame.

I mean, it was ugly. I hope Bosh's mother didn't see that.

To make matters worse, Bosh averaged 10.8 RPG last year and 9.3 RPG for his career. In November, Bosh averaged just 6.5 RPG. The Heat faithful were getting antsy; they thought perhaps Bosh was a mistake.

Meanwhile, the media blamed the 26 year old power forward for the Heat's unceremonious demise, LeBron's decision to broadcast "the decision," a cold weather front from the east, and the Nazi invasion of Poland.

In Bosh's defense, he was new to the system, everything about his situation was unprecedented, and the road was as hostile as any team has ever faced in the history of the NBA. He might have turned to team leader Dwayne Wade to see him through the tough times, but Wade was embroiled in a mighty struggle of his own.

Wade was injured within the first three minutes of the first quarter, of the first preseason game and could not practice with "his" newly constructed team.  Wade missed the entire preseason, and it took him a while to round into shape.

At one point it seemed that Wade was a step slow. When he was finally healthy, it was clear that he was trying a bit too hard to fit in, on HIS team.

On Thursday December 2, the Heat played Cleveland. There are dead people who knew what the outcome of this game was going to be long before it was played. That didn't curtail the hype one bit. 

This just in: Cleveland doesn't have LeBron James anymore. Guess what? LeBron kicked Cleveland's collective butt, the Heat were galvanized, and they've won 19 of 20 since.

There are many elements that factor in to the Heat's resurgence. What sticks in the mind of the casual fan is the Sports Center highlight of James connecting with Wade for the slam on the break. How they got out on the break is never given a second thought.

No one would ever confuse Bosh with a great one-on-one defender, and some of the big men he plays with could be described as slightly past their prime.

While no evidence has been found to support claims that it was Juwan Howard, and not 26 year old power forward Chris Bosh that was involved in the Nazi attack on Poland, it has been reported that Howard was in fact the only African-American in Poland, in 1938.

Despite Bosh's lack of one-on-one defensive prowess and the advanced age of some of his teammates, Miami's defense is the best in the league and their interior defense has been stellar. Why? Because Chris Bosh is long, he can move his feet and, and once he got acclimated to the Heat's defensive system he turned out to be a fine help defender.

Furthermore, Bosh's average rebounds per game has risen from 6.5 in November to 9.0 in December. When you see James and Wade out on the break in the highlights, it is defensive rebounding and defensive stops that got them there. Chris Bosh might not be in the highlight, but he is one of the main reason why they occur.

Bosh has also improved in the Heat's half court offense. He is reading the coverage better and is back to being the tough cover he was in Toronto. Bosh's jumper must be respected. If a defender gets to close, Bosh has a devastating pump fake that gets defenders in the air. After the fake, he is blowing by his defender and finishing with high percentage shots at the rim.

With being new to the system and Wade being hurt, Bosh got more than his share of the blame for the Heat's rocky start. It's only fair that he gets some of the credit for their rise to power in the Eastern Conference.

I'll end this article with some breaking news: this just in, Juwan Howard is still alive.