It's only two games into the NBA Playoffs and there is one player who is like a kid in a candy store. He's a perennial 20-10 player, All-Star, and typically not even included in SportsCenter Highlights.
Miami Heat's Chris Bosh must be laughing himself awake every morning as he looks out on the white yachts floating by his window. Dwayne Wade and LeBron James get the media intensity, the game planning focus, the scrutiny now that they're in the playoffs.
Bosh just comes in and cleans up 4-6 points off crashing boards and tip-ins, another 4-6 on alley-oops and easy slams, another 10 points on easy jump shots in the defensive gaps opened up by Wade and LeBron slashing. And then he takes a towel and sips some Gatorade, looks at his watch, searches for seafood restaurants on his iPhone, and tries to think of what blazer to wear afterward.
Let's get this straight: there are a lot of great performances from Hall of Famers happening right now in the 2011 playoffs. But no one is having an easier time of things than Chris Bosh. He's getting his points easy, his rebounds easy, his choices are easy. Too easy.
How did it get like this? Simple: in the playoffs, the rotations shrink. That means less players performing for more minutes, exerting more energy on the floor, especially on the defensive end. Miami has two must-defends: Wade and James.
Then the Heat usually have at least one hot three-point shooter going off a game, whether it's Bibby or James Jones or even Eddie House. As an opposing coach, you are faced with a series of cruel and unfair choices. No playoff teams with any self-respect allows the other team's three-point shooters to just sit outside and wait for the kick-out passes.
Who's gonna be the most valuable Big at the end of the playoffs?
And there is no defender who can match up with Wade or LeBron. The Heat's offense is very efficient at pick-and-rolls and screens which need to be guarded against. The one chip lost in this is Chris Bosh.
On a normal team you would have a middle force like Bosh and maybe one slasher who is probably the point guard and a shooting guard floating around in the mid-range area. But in LeBron James they have a massive force who handles the ball 30-40 percent of the time in the half-court sets. He pulls out the bigger bodies and keeps them exhausted in attempting to defend him. Wade does a good job of leaning on the smaller defenders. Bosh is often getting the lesser defenders and a lot of operating space.
Bosh is getting 20 points in offense scraps and crumbs. Things won't be this easy for Bosh going forward. If the Miami Heat get past the Sixers, they're going to face much tighter defenses. But they're also going to not have a LeBron James defender as long and fast as Iguodala. The situation should get a lot easier for LeBron which will attract even more attention and double teams.
If the Heat can keep their offense fluid and get people moving off-the ball and spacing the floor, there are no good answers for opposing teams and Bosh should have some of the easiest playoff stats around and avoid a lot of long-term damage to the body.
This doesn't mean beating the Heat or Bosh is impossible. They could go limp and brain-dead as they have throughout stretches of the season. Their offense could become stagnant and too dependent on Wade and James dribbling around. They might forget about Bosh and this happens a lot when they start experiencing too much easy success. Their defense could become too gamble-intensive with Wade and James going for steals and blocks.
But all of these problems are on their game preparation and mental focus. As far as competition they have no problems and match up very well against all potential challengers.
Oddly enough, some of the teams that match up best with the Heat are in the Western Conference playoffs. Oklahoma City has the big bodies and quick defenders to stop the Heat in a series if they're focused enough.
New Orleans and Memphis before crucial injuries had both the point guards and big forwards to stifle things. But now slightly injured, it's not very likely that Memphis or New Orleans are going to get to the finals. If Oklahoma wins the West, then the Heat could face problems. Other than that, the start of this playoffs could be a good omen for one of the most underrated big men in the game.