By Andrew Wittry
From the start of the NBA season, the Miami Heat have been the Eastern Conference favorites. After Chris Bosh’s abdominal strain sidelined him in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals things began to change. Then falling behind 2-1 in the series, the Heat were thrown into a must-win scenario in Game 4. It was the first time all season that Erik Spoelstra’s squad had been in danger of being eliminated by a non-elite team (any team outside of the Chicago Bulls, Oklahoma City Thunder, and San Antonio Spurs). Their one-game deficit also marked the widespread realization of how important Chris Bosh is to the Heat. Bosh often gets discounted when it comes to Miami’s “Big Three.” Wade is the long-time hero of Miami who brought a championship to South Beach. LeBron is the four-time MVP who puts the Heat on his back night in and night out. And what is Chris Bosh? In reality, he is an All-Star level talent who has 20 ppg and 10 rpg potential; however, the former Georgia Tech forward is the third scoring option in Miami and does not get the credit he deserves for the role he plays alongside D-Wade and LeBron.
It was not until Chris Bosh had to miss the rest of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals that fans began to understand just how integral he was to the Heat’s success. Without Bosh, the Heat have the dynamic tandem of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, aging forwards, and inconsistent shooters. With Bosh on the floor, defenses have to pay attention to both Miami’s guards and forwards. However, if Joel Anthony is involved in a pick-and-roll offense, defenders can concentrate on James and Wade since Anthony is not a major scoring threat. Even if the Heat are Dwyane Wade’s team, Chris Bosh is a more important player. Without Wade this year in the regular season, Miami went 7-1. Without Bosh, they were 4-5.
The Indiana Pacers exposed the Heat’s lack of depth in Games 2 and 3 by pounding the ball into the paint to Roy Hibbert and David West. Though the Heat are up 2 to 0 in the Eastern Conference Finals, they still have been tested (Game 2 was one for the ages). Kevin Garnett has not let his age show this postseason, not to mention Boston’s depth at forward with Brandon Bass and Mickael Pietrus. Even if the Miami Heat win the title, which will certainly be a challenge, they will need to upgrade their frontcourt to support Bosh. If only they could add a player similar to Roy Hibbert or Tyson Chandler, a major presence in the paint in terms of rebounding, scoring, and defense. The Heat could be mentioned in the same breath as some of the all-time great teams and leave a lasting mark on the NBA. Until then, there is no guarantee that the Miami Heat will ever win a championship.
While the Heat would never split up the “Big Three,” the best way that they could clear up enough cap space to sign a talented forward or center and have money left over so that they don’t have to scrape from the bottom of the barrel for free agents is to trade D-Wade. Given the Heat’s records without Bosh and Wade this regular season, LeBron and Bosh are the better combination.
The Heat may have enough pure talent to win a championship, but if they fall short, keeping Chris Bosh healthy and adding depth down low is critical for them to make a title run.
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