Here we are in early March and the regular season is nearing its close. There have been thousands (if not tens of thousands) of articles written about the Miami Heat and the Heatle Trio born from the glorious and much ballyhooed union of Dwayne Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh.
I got my cursory opinion out in October with “LeBron James and the Miami Heat: It's Time To Panic!” which you can find on Bleacher Report, and (I am glad to say) I still stand by the content therein contained. Whether you loved the Miami Heat or hated them, this article is written just for you.
So, what exactly is the issue with the Miami Heat. It is, after all, a league built on superstars, and they clearly have three of the superstars from last year, and none of them has had a season-ending injury. How can it be that they have now lost five games in a row and have regressed since the NBA All-Star break. How can this be?
The Heatles were on the Sergeant Pepper tour around the NBA, were they not? Weren't they living as Eazy E so eloquently described in the lyrics of “Boyz in the Hood” (e.g. jocking the b's…and slappin, da ho's)? Did they not come out like the Notorious B.I.G. singing, “It was all a dream?”
The truth is a lot happened and the structural faults of the team have been exposed by virtually every team in the league that can win more than half of its games. The core of the problem is that superstars do not win games, TEAMS WIN GAMES.
Although I am sure there is a dye in the wool, Cavaliers would argue that point right now. LeBron was not wining, or for that matter, losing those games by himself prior to the sign and trade over the summer. There was a supporting cast and capable role players, who just happened to disappear when needed most. (But, that is another story entirely.)
Let's Be Fair: The Miami Heat Are a Good Team.
LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and even Chris Bosh have soldiered admirably over the course of the season. The record that the Heat maintain in the league is more than respectable, and they definitely deserve to be in the playoffs. This team still has the core of a nearly unstoppable Heat wave if they can acquire the right complements. The loss of Udonis Haslem was devastating for this team; he brought a certain skill set to the unit that none of the star players on the Heat roster has ever demonstrated. He knew how to play when he was not the best player on the court.
With the exception of the closing minutes of games, LeBron James (26pts / 7.1ast / 7.5reb)is having another MVP-caliber season (most years that stat line gets a man an MVP trophy and some respect). Wade (25.6pts / 4.4ast / 6.7reb) remains productive and aggressive. Bosh (18pts / 8.1reb / 1.8ast) is still a bit lost in the shuffle, but many of those issues seem to be addressable. The issue is that Bosh is not the type of player that makes either LeBron James or Dwayne Wade better, and vice versa, Wade and James do not accentuate Bosh's game.
Nonetheless, anyone who suggests that the group is an utter failure simply has an axe to grind, but the union has been less than perfect, and judging by the tears in the locker room, far from holy. It is still hard to believe that Spoelstra felt it was wise to relate that tidbit to the press, yet we live and learn.
Too bad no one forgets!
The Recent Head Games:
With that being said, for the sake of appearing fair and balanced like a well-known news network. I still maintain that Bosh is not the right fit as a third superstar, because he does not naturally play on the block. His recent statement: “I just have to get it where I'm effective. I'm a big man. I can shoot the ball but I'm a big man. So, I have to get it where big guys get it. Then, I feel I can start helping out this team more. ” This is almost comical, because he also said that this was “common sense”
This is what Bosh said in June (2010): “The thing I said when I came into free agency is I’m going to be a forward”, Bosh said. “I’m going to play my natural position.” Well, he got his wish.
The elephant in the room was this: Bosh playing a lot of center on the Toronto Raptors, because they did not have a decent center. Well, guess what, signed with a team that also lacked an actual center. So, that made just about no sense. Maybe it almost made sense, but then you think about and...no, it never made any sense. Are Joel Anthony or Zydrunas Ilgauskas better options at center?
This is an attempt to get into the minds of his teammates. It could have positive results, but really, it is something that should have been said the first and only time behind closed doors. Especially, considering Bosh is calling out his teammates and coaching staff after an underwhelming 3-11 performance.
In this article, I am going to be extremely critical of Bosh, and I will do my best to write a follow-up to contextualize the claims and identify other issues with the Heat's recent performance. Bosh should not shoulder all of the blame, but in light of his recent comments, he is deserving some thorough inspection.
Shot Charts Don't Lie (All of the time):
The other problem with his recent request to get the ball where “big guys” get it is to examine where he is getting the ball in relation to other power forwards, and you see he is basically getting the ball where other power forwards get it. Truth be told, the only thing that keep him from getting the ball closer to the basket is where he chooses to stand.
Power forwards tend to get the ball from 17 feet in (around the elbows), and if they cut hard, back door or hit the offensive boards at the front of the rim. Bosh tends to catch it a little farther out in many cases, because he floats farther out and likes to face up on the defender, because he is agile with a good handle. Consider the shot charts (below) and you will see that Bosh gets the ball in positions that correlate to the NBA power forward role.
Shot chart for the most recent Bulls games:
Boozer is more physical and fights for position. Tends to get the ball a couple feet closer to the rim.
Shot Chart for most recent Spurs game:
Shot Chart for the most recent Celtics game:
Concessions and Conclusions on Bosh's “Big Guy” Statement:
Yes, his offense is often underutilized late in games, but he also does little to improve his physical position on the court BEFORE he gets the ball. And, that is key to big-man play in basketball; the player has to get the position before he receives the ball to be most effective when he receives.
How often do you see Chris Bosh raise his shooting hand as he takes his defender into the block and throws his elbow into the defenders chin for the expressed purpose of wearing him out in the paint and talking about his mama?
When Bosh does that and realizes that his natural position is based on the unit he is playing with, he will realize that on the Miami Heat, his natural position is thin-chested center. The same as it was in Toronto. He is the best they have to offer in that slot and role-playing power forwards are relatively easy to find. If Udonis Haslem was healthy, it would be even more imperative to move Bosh to center.
Most power forwards in the league score off passes, rebounds or spot-up jumpers (as a last option). Most power forwards in the league are on the court for effort, because they are neither the biggest nor the quickest players on the court at any given time.
For Bosh, that means he needs to hit the offensive glass like it stole his lunch money, cut to the rim like its the chow line in a starving country and hammer his man in the post like he is building a fence with his bare hands. If he played more like Joakim Noah and less like Bargnani, he would easily get more looks under the rim.
When he does those three things, the location of his looks will change as a natural consequence. Chris Bosh has far too much skill and refined offensive moves to allow himself to routinely receive the ball in positions he, supposedly, does not want to score from. This is not Toronto—word on the street: Miami has other options.
Essentially, what Bosh did here was point three fingers. And, do you know who the fingers of dissension and derision were pointed at? LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Coach Spoelstra. Not even a knuckle in the direction of Chris Bosh.