HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The basketball-viewing public spends so much time harping on what Heat All-Star forward Chris Bosh is not, it took two straight Heat losses to remind many about what he is.
Bosh is the only real low-post presence on the Heat other teams worry about. No offense to Udonis Haslem, Joel Anthony and the ageless warrior, Juwan Howard, but without Bosh in the paint, the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers knew exactly where the advantage would be in their weekend matchups against the Heat.
No Bosh meant no problems for the likes of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap in Utah and Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum in Los Angeles.
It didn’t take long after Sunday’s loss to the Lakers for the Bosh’s coaches and teammates, specifically Erik Spoelstra and Dwyane Wade, to start singing his praises of the power forward who was on personal leave over the weekend. Spoelstra and Wade spelled it all out simply to ESPN.com’s told the Heat Index:
“Chris is a major component of what we do on both ends of the court,” Spoelstra said after the 93-83 defeat. “That’s why we don’t listen to anybody when they talk about Chris’ importance or value.”
“We always appreciate Chris,” Dwyane Wade said. “It is you guys who don’t appreciate him.”
He’s right. We probably don’t always appreciate what Bosh brings to the table on a team led by LeBron James and Wade. But on a team with such an underwhelming low-post presence even when Bosh is uniform (he works the elbow and wing as much or more than he does the space right around the basket), it’s easy to overlook the man whose job it is to hold down that position when the Heat decide to focus their energy inside.
Going up against two of the better frontline tandems in the Western Conference (and in the league overall) was bound to expose the Heat’s deficiencies in the paint. Without Bosh, though, the glaring difference in talent was much more pronounced.
Spoelstra has trumpeted Bosh as the Heat’s “most important player” since last season. And after this weekend’s showing, it’s hard to argue with that stance. More from Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald:
“No question about it, Chris Bosh is a major component to what we do on both ends of the court,” Spoelstra said. “That’s why we don’t listen to anybody when they talk about Chris’s importance or value. He’s one of the best players in this league, but more importantly, he has a great impact on how we play, and he settles us.”
Bosh has missed the Heat’s past three games following the death of his grandmother. He’s expected to rejoin the team Tuesday. Spoelstra said the team learned on Saturday that Bosh wouldn’t be traveling to Los Angeles.
“When you miss a guy like that you lose a lot,” said Udonis Haslem, who started in place of Bosh against the Lakers. “But it’s no excuse. We had a chance to win in Utah, and we were in the game [Sunday]. So, I can’t really say that’s why we lost.”
It might not have been the sole reason the Heat lost their two games, but it was clearly the biggest contributing factor in their demise both times.