Stronger Work From Bosh Vital For Miami


Chris Bosh may be the Miami Heat player who needs to foul out.

That, at least, would be an indication that he is taking his defensive work seriously in his Eastern Conference finals matchup with Indiana center Roy Hibbert.

An over-the-back, loose-ball foul every now and then would make a statement. So would sending Hibbert to the line a little more often (the biggest Pacer already has shot 31 free throws, more than any Miami player, but too few at Bosh’s hand).

Instead, Bosh’s primary concern through the first four games, with Game 5 Thursday night at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami (8:30, TNT), seems to be staying eligible. On multiple plays Tuesday in which he might have sought contact to thwart an easy bucket – or better yet, save LeBron James or another teammate from having to do it and risk a whistle – Bosh has been passive. A little bit of foul trouble, on top of his sore ankle, and avoiding a sixth foul soars to the top of his priority list.

Chris Bosh defends Roy Hibbert (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE)

Chris Bosh defends Roy Hibbert
(Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE)

Wait, did we say sixth? Since signing with Miami in July 2010, Bosh has had only nine games – out of the 256 he has played as part of the Big 3 – in which he committed as many as five fouls. He hasn’t fouled out once. Fact is, Bosh has only fouled out of a game just twice since the end of the 2005-06 season; eight of his 10 disqualifications came in his first three seasons, back when Bosh was establishing both his reputation and the manner in which he would play defensively in this league.

Yeah, yeah, we know: Wilt Chamberlain never fouled out of a game in his 13 NBA seasons. But Wilt could get by on sheer size when dragging four or five fouls around late in games. Bosh isn’t built that way. At his position of power forward, let alone “center,” foul trouble comes with the job. Tim Duncan has fouled out 20 times in his career. Kevin Garnett, 27 times. If you’re active and engaged and you take pride in your defense, it’s going to happen.

But it has happened only twice in the past seven years for Bosh — and not at all over the last three.

Obviously, disqualification is no one’s goal. But Bosh will shy away from the tough stuff that might deprive him of court time earlier in the game, too (two fouls in the first quarter or a third in the second). That doesn’t lend itself to the by-whatever-means-necessary mentality of the playoffs.

Does anyone think Hibbert’s natural inclinations take him toward, rather than away from, the elbows, forearms and shoulders down low? Hardly. But as Hibbert said after Game 4: “I’m just trying to do my part and create extra possessions and try to be tough. It’s a mental thing, really. Do you want to go in there and bang with LeBron, Chris Bosh and Birdman [Chris Andersen] or would you rather just be on the outskirts of the paint and just say ‘I’m going to get back in transition?’ … You have to throw yourself in there and that’s one of the aspects I try to bring if I don’t have the ball in my hands.”

Hibbert is averaging 22.8 points and 12.0 rebounds in the series and, no, he hasn’t fouled out either. But that’s just an indicator, cited in Bosh’s case to illustrate the way he’s playing and to juxtapose it with James’ rare DQ Tuesday.

Bosh is averaging 14.0 points and 3.3 rebounds this round, and it’s that latter number that is a problem for the Heat, to the point of being unacceptable and a major source of his team’s woes with the series tied 2-2.

The world has been told repeatedly about the 6-foot-10 power forward’s grand sacrifice in a) playing as Miami’s nominal starting “center” and b) doing so without bulking up or reconfiguring his game to something more traditional as a low-post banger. He has been asked to draw the other guys’ big men away from the paint with his range and touch, sometimes as a pick-and-pop but often as a spot-up shooter.

That might explain Bosh’s total of two offensive rebounds in four games (the same number as guards Mario Chalmers and Ray Allen). But 11 in four games off the defensive glass? Nobody is pulling Bosh away from the paint at that end of the floor. In fact, Hibbert (26 offensive rebounds) and David West (12) are pounding inside like few other 4-5 tandems in the league, yet Bosh’s shaky fundamentals in holding position and boxing out are getting exploited.

For what it’s worth, Bosh seems to get it. “We had them right where we wanted them but every time we would get a stop, especially in the fourth quarter, we didn’t come up with the rebound,” he said Tuesday. “They got too many offensive rebounds.”

Indiana is plus-31 in rebounds through four games – with 61 on offense to Miami’s 92 defensive boards – and plus-33 in second-chance points. Unless those margins head south in the coming days, Miami is in trouble and coach Erik Spoelstra knows it.

“You have to get into the fight,” he said. “The thing about it, when you have a front line like that and an aggressive team and that’s their nature, they don’t make it easy. Conversely, we don’t make it easy on them in our game.  That’s what this is about.

“If we don’t get into that battle every single possession, they impose their will,” Spoelstra continued. ” That’s their game.  And they’re very good at it. When we get into that battle and we’re winning those battles, the script flips, and now they have to deal with a lot of things that we can impose on them.”

In last year’s East semifinal series against the Pacers, the Heat played without Bosh for the final five games due to his abdominal strain. They’re playing without him now more than they should be, for reasons entirely of style and will.

24 Comments

  1. Rollie says:

    The Miami Heat must recognize during the off-season that Chris Bosh’s signing was a mistake and try to leverage him and Dwayne Wade in a trade that will provide youth, depth and consistency through all positions, both starting and reserve. The current incarnation of the Miami Heat was designed to win quickly within a fractured league, a league collectively rebuilding, notwithstanding Oklahoma City and San Antonio. It is during those few years of turnover that teams like the Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks and Boston Celtics can be presented as statistically dominant, and even win championships, but quickly erode due to complacency, injury, age, and conflict. As proven by the astonishingly myopic, self-destructive management of Dallas and Boston, a collection of past-prime, aging all-stars is not a harbinger of a long-term championship winning culture. Greed is good. But prudent planning is better.

  2. EyronFigures says:

    Bosh is not like what before when he’s rebounding is good..today he usually hope for Haslem and James in Rebounding.. he must step up,scores and rebound.. Rebounding is the only Key in the GAME to win it.. I am a Heat fan but i am disappointed for BOSH.. i hope he will play hard in GAME 6.. Let’s Finish it and go to the FINALS and get that RING! SPURS is waiting and for me, it enough for them to have 4 Championships.. Timmy crushed the CAVS in 2007 and now Heat has JAMES and it is time to revenge.. Let’s Go HEAT! Go for the GOLD!

  3. amitpal says:

    Bosh always says the right stuff but doesnt put in the effort it takes. I remember at the beginning of the series he said I was the key to the series. 14 point and three rebounds is all he came with. And hes not workinf to get better. Sole jump shooter and nothing else.

  4. Stefan says:

    Bosh is a great player, but he isn’t center material. They need to keep him at power forward, were he does real damage. If the Heat intend to rule the playoffs (and seasons) for the next few years, they need to bench Haslem, move Bosh to power forward, and get a C to play C, not a PF/C to play C.

    Though I like 3s Bosh has been putting up. If Miami doesn’t want him, I’d love to see him come over to the Spurs. We’ll be needing a new PF/C in the next few years. :(

  5. Osama says:

    spurs in 6 over either

  6. ac says:

    It pains me to say this because I truly hate Miami but they’re winning tonight and game 6 in Indy. Sorry guys.

  7. bunbury says:

    The problem with Bosh (and Stoudemire) is that he is an offensive player and not a defensive stopper. his offense is now limited by the fact that he is now the 3rd option so more attention will come to his defense. I think this needs to be taken into consideration when grouping 3 superstars. Miami would be MUCH better with a Noah/Chandler/Hibbert type of PF/C than a Bosh/Boozer/Stoudemire PF/C.

  8. Lushie says:

    I agree that Bosh needs to refine he’s rebounding fundamentals.
    Its not how tall you are ,or how high you jump, its how you position yourself during rebounding.
    Lots of guys like Rodman and Barkley thats very good in rebounding not because of their height ,but because of their great ability to position against the opponents.

    Yeah thats pretty basic, but thats what Bosh needs to do!!

    Rebounding is also determination and fighting for the ball harder than anyone!

  9. jaoromero says:

    are you friggin kidding me? nobody is pulling him away to grab defensive rebounds? are ppl blind or do they need everything explained to them. Bosh fronting Hibbert everytime takes him out of position. so instead of Bosh boxing out Hibbert, you have Hibbert boxing out Bosh. am i the only one seeing this play? it’s friggin simple! if you wanna stop the Hibbert offensive rebounds, stop fronting him.

    there’s a way to deny Hibbert the ball without fronting him but i’m not there to teach it to you dumba$& so figure it out yourself!

  10. Kimball911 says:

    bosh is a joke!!!

  11. Loki says:

    This is why signing Andersen was such a good move on Miami’s part.

  12. Manny says:

    Bosh is a straight offence player a power forward with height but no muscle and no desire to outrebound anybody. He is one of those players that will get on your face but if you attack him he will back away and fall a perfect victim for one of blake griffen dunks. For what is worth he always has a big game just to silent the critics and then go back to being unnoticeable..
    Why isn’t joel Anthony seeing any minutes? Last year Joel Antony did a good job of keeping the Indiana bigs on check

  13. Jamesh20000 says:

    What’s up with Mike Miller? Better rebounder/defender than Ray Allen and 3 inches taller. Joel Anthony might be an interesting defensive match-up with Hibbert, being not only 10lbs heavier than the others but also much more aggressive.

    p.s. funny how Lebron did well, posting up Paul George, but the minute he got into foul trouble, Lebron couldn’t do the same with Sam Young. Not funny at all, actually. Young is stronger, weighs more, and has a lower center of gravity.

    • manny says:

      yah what’s up with miller and Antony not playing they did well against Indiana on the semi final

  14. Cuco Veneeno says:

    Miami will be Ok tonight….. there is not way that they gonna loose one more game at AAA…

  15. sanjay says:

    Miami needs total team effort period. They cant win with half team struggling
    they need to toughen up their defense use joel and miller in this game for a while.
    bird/haslem/miller/anthony can make it work! And wade has to do more.
    cole also has to come to play as he has been in-effective so far!
    Miami can defeat pacers by pacing up the game and score in transition.
    and hopefully they shoot better from now on!

  16. AM says:

    Chris Bosh is being so disappointing in this postseason. This is the first team that is giving miami problems and Bosh has completely disappeared. He is averaging 3.2 rebounds, for gods sake. On that last play in Game 4 when Hibbert got the rebound, the putback and was fouled, Bosh was just staring at the ball instead of boxing out. Wade might not be at full strenght, but Bosh is not even trying to show up when it is most needed, since the role players are having a tough time scoring. For me, all the blame is on bosh if Miami loses the series

  17. Ro says:

    If you’re close to 7 feet tall, and playing the minutes that Bosh does, you should grab 10 rebounds per game just by being out there. Indiana is not a good shooting team, so there’s going to be misses.
    I dont understand how you can keep letting someone walk all over you! If your guy gets a couple of offensive rebounds in 1 quarter, you need to find him, put a forearm in his chest and box him the F out!! Yeah Hibbert is tall and will get some taps every now and then. But the guy cant jump, and there’s no way he could ‘out quick’ Bosh and get around his box out. This is pathetic Chris. Purely and simply.

    • Mecena says:

      I agree with you. Bosh is not as tall as Hibbert but he is more athletic and a little faster. So, let’s hope for a good game tonight :)

    • PACERS!!!!!!! says:

      Y’all gonna jack up Bosh’s game by messing with his mind. Now he won’t be able to score or do anything else effectively bc he keeps on focusing on grabbing that rebound. U better make sure the Heat would win if that’s all he does.

  18. LabMonkey says:

    I think the Heat look like Lebron’s Cavs right now, they need more from Wade and Bosh. I think the Manimal Kenneth Faried would be a perfect fit for Bosh at a much lower price.

    • PACERS!!!!!!! says:

      Dude. forget the HEAT!! Pacers need to step it up another notch and take the series while they can. Don’t let the Heat bounce back!! your heard me Pacers?!! You know they’re gonna come out hard!

  19. theholyspectator says:

    do or die situation for miami tonight pretty much…indy lookin good to go to the finals tho with momentum back in their corner..cant believe im sayin that…miami has no answer for hibbert…hes the x factor of this whole series and tonight miami has to shut this guy down…bosh and wade part of the big 3 have been no where to be found…these guys have got to make a huge impact..lbj will be lbj…indy has played solid in miami so this game tonight will be extremely interesting..if indy wins then miami is in serious trouble..if miami wins…i think miami will understand the opportunity and close em out in indy for game 6