In all likelihood, there isn’t a single person on the planet as relieved as Chris Bosh that the Miami Heat’s series with the Indiana Pacers is over. During the Eastern Conference Finals, Bosh had one of the worst playoff series of his career. Though he started off well enough, scoring at least 15 points in the first three games, the Miami Heat’s center finished dreadfully, leading to paltry averages of 11 points and 4.3 rebounds to go with 37 percent shooting over the entire series.
As the seven game series wore on, Bosh simply wore down. All series long he struggled to guard Roy Hibbert, a player he surrendered 3 inches and almost 50 pounds to. To make matters worse, he suffered an ankle sprain during Game 4 after colliding with Hibbert, which essentially rendered his off-the-dribble attack ineffective. The constant pounding underneath the rim with Hibbert and David West also repeatedly led to foul trouble, which kept him out of rhythm on the offensive end.
For this year, at least, the nightmare matchup that the Indiana Pacers present Bosh with is over. Ahead of him, however, is the San Antonio Spurs’ starting front line of Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter, which present their own set of challenges. Unlike Hibbert and West, though, the Spurs’ frontcourt should be physically less taxing on Bosh, something that should benefit his game immensely.
Although it’s a small sample size (just five games), Bosh has had success against San Antonio since coming to Miami. According to Ethan Strauss, Bosh has averaged 23.6 points on 60.5 percent shooting against the Spurs over the past three seasons. Part of the reason for this success is due to San Antonio’s defensive tendencies: Like most good NBA defenses these days, the Spurs are willing to concede long 2-point jump shots. While San Antonio didn’t get burned using this strategy against a poor-shooting Memphis team, Bosh will undoubtedly make them pay, as he is one of the best mid-range shooters in the entire NBA.
If Bosh’s ankle has healed at all since Monday, he should also be able to utilize his off-the-dribble attack as well. Neither Duncan nor Splitter are particularly quick big men, which leaves them susceptible to another of Bosh’s patented moves. When Duncan or Splitter try to close out hard on Bosh to prevent his jumper, Bosh is adept at using a pump fake to attack the basket. Both Duncan and Splitter are too slow to recover quickly enough, and Bosh should be able to score at the rim now that he no longer has to attempt to finish around the mammoth Hibbert.
For the Heat to be successful in this series, it’s crucial for Bosh to reestablish himself as a threat offensively. Bosh presents a problem for the Spurs not only because he thrives in an area that their defense doesn’t account for, but also because his game creates driving lanes for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to attack the basket by sucking one of San Antonio’s bigs out of the paint. Bosh’s success could also be key in allowing the Heat to return to their preferred small-ball lineups, something they all but abandoned against Indiana.
While no one knows whether Bosh will regain his form, the matchup with the Spurs presents a prime opportunity to do so, provided that his ankle holds up. Though Duncan and Splitter were dominant against the Memphis duo of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, neither Gasol nor Randolph possessed the quickness or mid-range jumper to truly trouble the San Antonio bigs. Bosh, on the other hand, excels in these areas that truly trouble the Spurs front line.
In order to defeat San Antonio, the Heat will need Bosh to perform at a high level. With Hibbert and West now just an ugly memory, expect Bosh to do so.
Previously from Charlie Crespo:
♦ The Noblest of Experiments
♦ Seriously, People, Enough With the Dolphin Obsession
♦ Beertopia: Gordon Biersch Brewing Company’s Josephsbrau Prost
♦ Grumpy Cat Goes to Hollywood
♦ Can the Indiana Pacers Stop LeBron’s Post Game?