Chris Bosh Proved That He Is the Miami Heat’s Most Vital Player

Read my face–Chris Bosh is the Miami Heat’s most beneficial player to their success.

That includes last year’s success, this year’s and even in the NBA Finals, where Bosh had statistically the worst playoff series of his career. The low point and rebound totals came as a result of Bosh still not being 100 percent from the abdominal injury he suffered in Game 1 of the semifinals, yet the numbers hardly tell the story of what Bosh means to this team.

Numbers don’t matter to anyone on this Heat team. Once Chris Bosh and LeBron James decided to take their talents to South Beach, worrying about numbers became a thing of the past. No drive for scoring a lot of points, recording triple-doubles or attempting to lead the league in a specific category; just winning games.

Wade and James were going to sacrifice the potential of winning multiple MVP’s, on account of the fact that they’re on the same team now, but they were still going to get their stats as the one-two punch. They’d still dominate the ball on nearly every offensive possession and would be the one’s facilitating as shooters and passers.

Chris Bosh didn’t have the options that Wade and James have. He’s not the type of player that can receive the ball at the perimeter and then make magic happen. Even though he’s probably the best big man off the dribble, Bosh still needs to be fed and assistance from his teammates to produce at his usual rate.

Oh, sure, Bosh would get his looks with Miami. But he was never going to average 24 points again nor was he ever going to consistently be the focal point of an offense, either. When Bosh left the Toronto Raptors for Miami, he gave up the individual glory that surrounded him in Canada to become a third-wheel next to James and Wade.

No player in the NBA has sacrificed what Bosh has. No All-Star that averaged 24 and 11 one year has willingly taken less money in order to become a third banana while in the prime of his career. This wasn’t a 31-year-old Kevin Garnett going ring-chasing; this was a 26-year-old giving up millions of dollars to start winning championships now.

Bosh wasn’t going to wait for that opportunity to come. Probably because it wasn’t going to happen in Toronto nor anywhere else that would have liked to sign him in the summer of 2010. Bosh wanted to win, so he gave up money, stats and a reputation to win multiple titles with the Miami Heat.

I don’t think many fully realize what Bosh actually gave up by going to the Heat. Think of it this way: Imagine if you’re working at a small firm for seven years and then somebody tells you to come work at this bigger firm that will yield more success. However, in order to join the larger firm, you have to take a paycut, tell the small firm you built for seven years that you’re leaving, never get noticed for your work and then get ridiculed for it.

That was the easy way out? What Bosh, James and Wade did was probably the hardest thing they’ll end up doing in their careers, and it’s not even because Bosh and James had to turn their backs on franchises and cities that adored them. This was extremely difficult because you had three superstars buying into a brand-new experiment and then completely getting rid of their ego’s.

Half of this game is having the right state-of-mind. As shown by last year’s tough start, you can’t just throw three superstars together on a court and tell them to play basketball. It takes so much more than just putting the ball in a hoop. A lot needs to come together in order for this team, which still has pieces that don’t fit, to run an efficient offense.

The team’s offense is nothing without Chris Bosh in the lineup. And yes, I do remember Games 4-6 against Indiana, as well as Games 1, 2 and 6 against Boston. The positive to come out of Bosh’s injury was the fact that Wade and James needed to learn how to play off-the-ball and figure out new ways to score, but those two aren’t leading the Heat to the NBA Finals without Bosh.

We all remember James’ historic Game 6 and the Game 7 that followed where he had 31 points and 12 rebound, but those performances are for naught if Chris Bosh isn’t on the floor in Game 7. It’s already seemed that so many analysts have forgotten that Bosh scored 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting off the bench in that game.

It’s not like he set a career high for made three-pointers, either. Oh, wait, he totally did.

Yeah, believe it or not, Chris Bosh is actually one of the league’s most “clutch” players. You just wouldn’t know because you rarely see him getting the opportunity to perform in those types of situations. Usually it comes down to Dwyane Wade or LeBron James taking the shot, instead of relying on the actual best mid-range threat on the team.

But the original point I’m making is that this team isn’t getting to the Finals without Chris Bosh. Are they making it if they didn’t have those 19 points off the bench? The three most unexpected three-pointers in franchise history? Two of those unexpected three-pointers coming at a time during the fourth quarter where it would actually help the Heat pull away?

Wade and James are good enough to beat the Indiana Pacers and maybe they did have enough to come through in Game 7 against Boston, but they’re certainly not winning anything close to a championship with just those two. Their offense is too centered around guys like Bosh, who help enable the offense’s of Wade and James.

As it should be. When Bosh is on the floor, this team is scary good. When the team actually uses Bosh, they’re nearly unstoppable. Establishing Bosh as a scoring threat early on gives defense’s something else to wary about and it creates another dimension to an offense whose system isn’t complex enough to defeat the league’s top defenses.

Bosh is the only player on this team whose mid-range game is far more dangerous than his driving ability. You don’t find that with any other player on the team. The jump shooting of Wade and James always seems to be on-or-off and Mario Chalmers doesn’t play aggressive enough to actually be considered a legitimate slasher.

So the offense and its success falls heavily on Bosh. Without him, the Heat are left searching for answers to take it inside where they are most comfortable. I know Game 5 against Oklahoma City is still permeating through everybody’s mind, but this actually isn’t that great of a shooting team.

Coach Spoelstra, James and Wade made it an issue at the beginning of the season to attempt to get everything as close to the rim as possible.That only occurs on a consistent basis with Bosh on the floor because of his ability to shoot as well as drive. Because of those attributes, a post defender must go out to respect the jumper of Bosh.

Why else do you think the Boston Celtics made their series with the Heat go seven games? It’s not just because Rajon Rondo slices and dices the Heat’s defense, but more because Bosh wasn’t on the floor to attract the influence of Kevin Garnett. Without Bosh on the floor, Garnett was allowed to roam around in the paint and throw double-teams at Wade, who couldn’t get anything going as a result.

Take a look at Bosh’s final three-pointer against Boston in Game 7. It came solely as a result of Garnett disrespecting Bosh’s jumper. Kevin went to deny LeBron the drive and it resulted in Bosh getting an open corner three-pointer that would be the first of many daggers from the Heat in that fourth quarter.

Thus the reason why the Heat found so much success against the Thunder, despite the team having an excellent shot-blocker in Serge Ibaka and a huge body in Kendrick Perkins under the rim. Miami only found so much success in the paint against Oklahoma City because Bosh was on the floor attracting the influence of Ibaka or Perkins.

The Heat were able to run small-ball as a result. Perkins barely played and Ibaka, the league’s leading shot-blocker in the regular season, became a non-threat. It came as a result of James constantly posting up, but also because Bosh was out there forcing Ibaka or Perkins out of the paint.

And when they left Bosh open? They’re giving up a mid-range jumper, which is just as automatic as a Wade or James drive.

Bosh finished the postseason with averages of 14 points and 7.8 rebounds; his Finals stats were 14.6 points and 9.4 rebounds per. The regular season? 18 points and 7.9 rebounds; a far-cry from the 24 points and 11 rebounds he averaged in his final season with Toronto.

That’s what sacrifice is about, though. It’s about giving up those personal and individual glories to make room for the accomplishments that truly matter in the long run. Decades from now, people will remember Chris Bosh the champion and not Chris Bosh the guy who had some impressive stats with a mediocre team because of the decision he made to set aside numbers.

I hate the plus/minus rating. I know percentages and numbers are good pieces of evidence to support certain points, but numbers don’t always tell the story of what really happened.

However, I came across this stat on NBA.com that caught my eye. It involved the plus/minus rating of Heat players in a specific combination during the NBA Finals. It turns out the Heat’s best lineup was running Mike Miller, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Mario Chalmers.

The best three-man core was, obviously, James, Wade and Bosh. The top duo was James and Bosh. The top individual, however? Bosh with a +29. He gives 14 points and eight rebounds as the team’s starting center and he finishes the series with the highest plus/minus of any player on the team, including the reigning MVP and Finals MVP.

Bosh is never going to be traded from this Heat team. It didn’t happen last year or this year, nor will it happen next year or the year after. He’s too vital to the team’s success as the stretch four, or possibly five now, as his ability to stretch the floor and draw out defenders enables the drives of Heat players.

Numbers are nice, but you can’t put numbers on a mantle.

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