The Miami Heat have only played two games without Chris Bosh, but already it’s become painfully clear the team has a Big Three, not a dynamic duo like many have joked the past two seasons.
This year Bosh was a starter on the All-Star team while posting less than impressive numbers with 18.0 points points and 7.9 boards. Both stats were well below the career averages that many journalists and fans feel were inflated due to his time playing for the Toronto Raptors.
Bosh’s critics were vocal in declaring that Miami doesn’t need his inflated salary and they would be better served moving him for some depth on the roster. However, those same critics have gotten silent after Bosh went down in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Miami had a dominant 95-86 win in Game 1 of this series but they have looked beatable since.
The shift in momentum started in Game 2 when Indiana escaped South Beach with a win after bullying Miami around in the paint and on the glass.
The Pacers outrebounded the Heat 50-40 in Game 2 after Miami won the war on the glass 45-38 in Game 1.
Points in the paint were even at 38 in Game 2, but many of Miami’s interior points came from drives by LeBron James and Dwyane Wade which skewed this number a bit. This is a stark contrast to the Miami’s noticeable 52-40 advantage in Game 1.
Plus, the three “bigs” Miami played – Udonis Haslem, Ronny Turiaf and Joel Anthony – combined to score seven points. Yuck.
LeBron James admitted it was “taxing” to play power forward in Game 2 and things didn’t get much better in Game 3.
Things got off to a rough start when Dexter Pittman got the first start in the playoffs during his career. Pittman was inserted into the game with the intent on muscling Roy Hibbert away from the bucket and the glass. That plan didn’t work out as Erik Spoelstra had planned as Indiana raced out to a 9-2 lead and Miami while Miami started the game shooting an abysmal 1-11 from the field. Pittman played the first three minutes of the game and didn’t see the court again the remainder of the game.
Hibbert started 4-4 from the field and scored eight points, grabbed five boards and swatted two shots in the first quarter alone. He finished with 19 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks. Miami clearly has no answer for Hibbert and that isn’t likely to change looking at how their roster is constructed.
While it may not show up in the stat sheet, David West did a brilliant job of taking James out of the game. James had 16 points in the first half while going 7-13 from the field. The second half, however, was a completely different story. James seemed to fatigue after being constantly bumped and elbowed by David West in the paint and he went 3-9 from the field to finish with 22 points. There were a couple of times West tossed James to the floor in the lane, and Danny Granger got in the James’ face after a foul on a breakaway where he tugged on Superman’s cape.
With James being slowed in the second half by the bruising play of West, Miami needed Wade to step up in a big way. Instead, Wade pulled a disappearing act and started the game 1-11 from the field and was held scoreless at the half. He looked listless and uninspired unless he was seen arguing with his head coach.
Instead of attacking the paint like he is known for, Wade seemed content to settle for perimeter jumpers and finished the game 2-13 from the field with only five points.
Bosh only had 13 points and five rebounds in 16 minutes of burn in Game 1 before leaving the game with his injury. Again, those aren’t flashy numbers, but this series is showing Bosh’s biggest impact isn’t always in the stat sheet.
It’s a shame some basketball fans and members of the media aren’t willing to give Bosh the credit he deserves.