Bosh, Heat push Pacers to the brink

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com


VIDEO: Postgame: Chris Bosh

MIAMI – Some shots have more value than others.

Chris Bosh made three jumpers — one 2-pointer and a pair of 3s — in the first two minutes of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals on Monday, and they were worth a lot more than eight points on the scoreboard. Bosh’s start was just what the Heat needed to play their best game in their most important game of the postseason to date, a comfortable 102-90 victory that gave them a 3-1 series lead and put them one win away from their fourth straight trip to The Finals.

The Heat were 10-2 in the playoffs before Monday, but their last five wins were mostly about fourth-quarter execution. Over their last seven games, they trailed by an average of three points after three quarters.

Both the Pacers and Heat spoke before Game 4 about trying to play a complete game. Miami needed a better start. Indiana needed a better finish.

The Heat were the ones that got what they needed. They jumped out to an 8-0 start, led by as many as 10 in the first quarter, and never trailed.

The key?

“Chris Bosh,” LeBron James said afterward. “We got off to that fast start because Chris Bosh came out and got it going early.”

We’ve seen that, at times, Roy Hibbert‘s rim protection can be James’ Kryptonite. But Bosh’s perimeter shooting can be the Kryptonite for Hibbert’s rim protection. And his first few shots of the game can set the tone for how Hibbert defends him.

Before Monday, Bosh was 0-for-10 in the playoffs (0-for-4 in the conference finals) on shots in the first three minutes of the first quarter. And throughout this series, he hasn’t really made Hibbert pay for staying near the basket.

Bosh’s coach and teammates know how important his shooting can be to their offense. They were up 2-1, but knew they could get better if Bosh got out of an extended offensive funk against Hibbert and the Pacers. So they made it a point to get him good looks at the basket early.

“That was the game plan for us,” James said. “We’ve been talking about it the last couple of days, how are we going to get CB going?”

The first possession of the game was designed for Bosh. After setting a back-screen for James, he flared to the right wing, isolated on Hibbert, and drained a 17-foot jumper.

Two possessions later, Mario Chalmers found him open in the corner in transition. Hibbert failed to close out, Bosh sunk the trey, and was already talking to the crowd on his way down the floor.

“The one cool thing about it,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said, “was his teammates were real aggressive to try to get him going. That’s nice to see, when your brothers are wanting you to be aggressive and look for opportunities. You could see it.”

On the following possession, James dribbled off a screen from Bosh, drew Hibbert’s attention, and found Bosh beyond the arc again. Three shots, three swishes, and now Bosh was really barking on his way back on defense.

Bosh said afterward that he was feeling “a little bit greedy.”

“I just wanted to keep it going,” he said. “If you see one go in, you want two, and then you want three.”

From that point, the Heat offense was rolling downhill and the Pacers defense couldn’t stop it. Miami went the entire first quarter without going scoreless on two straight possessions. It was the first time in the series that they won the first period.

“When CB hits shots like that,” Chalmers said, “it makes things easier for everybody else, because we know we can always throw it back to him and the defense knows they have to worry about him. So it opens up the paint more.”

The paint was open for James, who scored 22 of his game-high 32 points in the restricted area (18) or at the free-throw line (four). As a team, the Heat shot 19-for-25 in the paint. They shot poorly (13-for-44) from outside the paint, but Bosh had six of those 13 baskets.

After averaging just 9.1 points on 35 percent shooting in his last 11 games against the Pacers, Bosh finished with 25 on 7-for-12, his highest point total against Indiana in 26 games since he came to Miami.

“I think the start is what did it for me,” Bosh said. “That gave my teammates confidence to hit me when I’m open.”

“Even though we ran maybe a couple of actions,” Spoelstra added, “the rest of it was those four other guys trying to create an action for him to get some air space. But he was engaged and active on both ends of the court, and he can impact it.”

The Heat finished with 102 points on just 81 possessions (126 per 100) against the No. 1 defense in the league, their best offensive game since Game 1 of the conference semifinals against Brooklyn.

They’re starting to bring more consistent energy on defense too. They’re peaking at the right time and could be well rested for The Finals if they can win Game 5 in Indiana on Wednesday.

If Bosh makes his first few shots again, start making those reservations.

21 Comments

  1. TheCubanConnection says:

    Where are the Haters?
    What’s Up!
    I want to get me some Haters now to fight verbally with them….I am gonna get me one!
    Here is the Cuban-Miamiam Connection …..where are the roaches?

    Miami Heat ,The CHamps….

  2. sleggs says:

    Go Heat!

  3. jdub455 says:

    hell yeah cb4! u continue doin that, the 3 peat will be accomplished!!

  4. Tony Clegg says:

    Bosh is a great player and will be in the hall of fame. Just like Wade, Bosh and James could win a Championship as the leader of their squads without a “big 3″. I don’t see anyone beating Miami as long as they have the Big 3. They are just too good. My prediction is the Heat win Conference Finals and then dispose of the San Antonion Spurs in the Finals in 5 games or less. Heat will dispose of thre Spurs quickly this time and get the rest they deserve and need. Send the Spurs out to pasture (laugh).

  5. Mohammed says:

    Indiana Pacers have been struggling since the first round in the playoffs and to me what happened to them is expected they have poor bench, Paul George 38% FG and Roy Hibberet under 5 points per game. Miami have some problems but they solve it quickly and any player in the team struggles like CB all the team help him to get into the game again

  6. Game Time says:

    I can’t believe what I’m reading. A John Schumann article about Miami with no negative undertones, jabs or unnecessary critiques. Bravo John.

  7. Brian says:

    Go Heat Go…..1 more win to Final and 4 more win to 3 peats. Let’s do it.

  8. Justin says:

    Lets GO DWAYNE WADE LETS GOOO!!!!!

  9. ism says:

    for the sake of basketball, miami better win this series no matter if in 5 or in 7. seriously, who wants to see an offensively challenged team like indy in the Finals, against a juggernaut like SAS? an underdogs’ finals okc vs. indy would be the best substitute for mia – sas but that likely won’t happen. go miami! I even would have preferred washington or maybe even chicago in the eastern conference finals. defense wins championship. but only if you have offense, too. or swagger, for that matter. which seems to be an elusive thing for the most part in indy.

    indy’s hope: if they manage to reach their potential they are a true contender.
    indy’s fear: they have been showing serious trouble reaching that potential for this whole season, hampered by hype, chemistry issues and overall inconsistend and streaky play.

  10. DM says:

    The Heat are just playing well right now. Key contributions from the big 3, with offerings from everybody else (Ray Allen/Cole/Birdman/Haslem). Even Rashard Lewis had some key defensive stretches last night. It is really simple.

  11. luqman says:

    lance u ar embarresed

  12. alan says:

    Can’t see any way back for Indiana now. They had their chances in games 2 and 3 but couldn’t take them. Miami stepped up in game 4 and led from the start. They ain’t gonna lose 3 in a row so series is over

  13. King says:

    They were crying like babies in game 4 lol. The whole year they had made it clear they wanted home court advantage. As Lebron said “be careful what you wish for”.

  14. lol says:

    They should activate Bynum so we could at least see something before they go on vacation LOL

  15. okc2014 says:

    The Pacers have issues. Time for them to stay home tomorrow. Too bad so sad.

  16. ism says:

    lol@anyone dissing bosh for being soft, no interior force, blablabla.
    i can’t think of another big man that would blend in so nicely other than maybe PFs like lamarcus aldridge, maybe boogie cousins would be a great fit. the heat need a non-traditional center like bosh and it has proven to be effective.

    • Tony Clegg says:

      I believe Bosh can take advantage of Hibbert and Duncan on the low post to score more. I saw the Heat attempting to do this in game 4 agains the Spurs last year but they got away from it.

    • squala96 says:

      While I’m happy to see Bosh finally perform like that, he’s really been quite soft sometimes. He takes too many jumpers and greatly lacks driving to the rim. If he can be as well-rounded as he was in Game 4, that would be awesome.

  17. pacersbandwagon says:

    thanks lance, you trash talk lebron and look what happen , pacers are so worthless trash talking the heat and they haven’t won jack, now the heat bout to make 4th consective finals #3peat

  18. Miami says:

    If any Pacers fan suggests this game being rig, look at the box score of game 1 (Mia 15 FT vs IND 37). However, games 2 and 3 were about even FT wise but they just got outplayed. At least Miami actually got fouled because you guys turned the ball over 2x as much as the Heat and were forced to foul to prevent a fast break layup. Miami is 1 game away from proving that they are once again the best team in the East even with the Pacers having home court advantage!