Chris Bosh only made a pair of jump shots in Game 2 of the NBA Finals. Such a scenario could normally doom the Miami Heat since he’s scored more than half of his points in the playoffs via mid-range and three-point jumpers. It didn’t matter this time around, though, as Bosh showcased an off-dribble game that harkened back to his days as one of the league’s most prolific scorers for the Toronto Raptors.
Bosh scored 18 points in Game 2, but it felt like far more. The thunderous dunk over Tim Duncan and go-ahead three-pointer in the waning moments is what we’ll remember most, and that’s fine. Any credit Bosh receives these days is better than none at all, and each were momentum-swinging plays in a game that constantly teetered on the brink.
But it was his consistent and surprising aggression as a penetrator that kept the Heat afloat in times when LeBron James thought it best to facilitate or was simply struggling to finish.
It’s easy to forget now, but it wasn’t long ago Bosh was considered a physical marvel: a 6-11 power forward with feet like a man six inches shorter. He used that unique blend of size and quickness to wreak havoc from the mid-post as a face-up scorer, constantly beating his man off the bounce and finishing at the rim before help could come from the weak side. Most of Bosh’s top 10 dunks as a Raptor, you’ll notice, fall under that umbrella:
He doesn’t attack with such frequent aplomb anymore. While some of that is due to an inevitable shift in Bosh’s offensive style as his body ages, more of it has to do with the specific role he’s asked to play in Miami. Bosh has developed into one of basketball’s premier jump-shooters with the Heat, often acting as weak-side safety valve and designed spot-up option. Rare are occasions he even dives to the basket after setting a ball-screen; he’s far more likely to ‘pop’ than ‘roll’ these days.
Obviously, pigeonholing Bosh’s offensive game in such a manner has worked out well for Miami. The Heat’s offense has been consistently devastating in the Big Three era, and especially so as Bosh has grown more and more comfortable as a threat from beyond the arc over the last two seasons.
Still, those constraints betray the unique talent he possesses. Bosh doesn’t post-up or operate outside Spoelstra’s offensive system for Miami. He’s firmly entrenched as a supporting piece these days. Though that’s a role he knowingly signed up for in the summer of 2010, it’s one that consistently lends itself to undue criticism. There’s a reason Bosh has become an internet meme waiting to happen, and it’s not just his oft-goofy persona.
We want ‘more’ from Bosh because we’ve seen him do it as a Raptor. The problem is that the Heat are asking even more of him than that – it’s just difficult for the fan’s eye to see. Spoelstra, obviously, understands better than anyone.
“He’s arguably our most important player,” Spoelstra said of Bosh after Game 2. “We’ve said it now for four years, and it’s not just because of that shot…
If he’s not scoring or doesn’t have big rebound numbers, from the outside it seems everyone is so critical about his game. But for us, he has a lot on his plate as a two-way player on both ends of the court.”