In the Miami Heat’s preseason opener, it wasn’t a player hoping to make the team that showed out.
Instead, it was one of Miami’s ‘Big Three’ to make the most out of their first NBA action since their Game 7 NBA Finals victory. While Dwyane Wade sat out and LeBron James took it lightly, Chris Bosh went to work with 21 points on 7-of-8 overall shooting, made all six of his free throws and hit his only three-point attempt.
He also finished with five rebounds and two assists in the 20 minutes he played in Miami’s 92-87 over the Atlanta Hawks. He was one of only three Heat players to score in double-figures, with the other two being Rashard Lewis (11 points) and newcomer, Roger Mason, Jr.
Bosh was equally aggressive near the rim as he was a shooter from the perimeter. He attacked the rim and drew fouls, while continuing to hit the mid-range jumpers he was automatic at converting last season.
One could only hope this is a sign of things to come for the Heat offense. Bosh has a particular set of skills that few defenders can match-up against, but has been massively underutilized in his three years with Miami because of the reliance on James and Wade.
However, with this being a contract year for Bosh, the Heat possibly wanting to give Bosh a larger role because it is a contract year and the reluctance to rely heavily on Wade, the Heat’s converted center could be of more significance in Miami’s plans for the 2013-14 season.
Bosh is coming off a season where he averaged a near career-low of 16.7 points per game.
He scored Miami’s first nine points and already had a double-digit scoring output by the 4:02 mark of the first. It was the exact type of play you want to see from Bosh in what is going to be a crucial year for his future, as well as the franchise he currently plays for.
Mason was the only fringe player who made their presence felt, hitting on three of his four three-point attempts and ending his first game in a Heat uniform with 14 points.
He also proved to be more than just a shooter grabbing six rebounds and dishing out four assists in 27 minutes.
Mason was one of four Heat players to hit at least two three-pointers and Miami finished the night shooting 12-of-26 as a team. Lewis, Shane Battier and James Jones all contributed a pair of threes.
LeBron James was short on a majority of his attempts, finishing only 4-of-11 from the field, but finished with a healthy nine points, five rebounds and five assists in 21 minutes.
The score doesn’t indicate how much Miami controlled the game. The Heat led by 19 at the half, yielding only 30 points, and leading by as much as 22 early in the fourth quarter. It wasn’t until Miami’s third and fourth-stringers came in to enable a frantic run by Atlanta to end the game.
The Hawks were led by Mike Scott’s 13 points. Paul Millsap scored 12 points in his debut and Al Horford dropped 10. DeMarre Carroll also had 10 points in a debut appearance.
Atlanta cut the deficit to two with 30 seconds remaining, but Mason coolly knocked down a pair of free throws to ice the game.
Miami was without several players tonight. Besides Wade, Chris Andersen, Michael Beasley and Udonis Haslem were all sidelined with injuries. Justin Hamilton was the only active player not to see playing time.
The Heat play a Detroit Pistons team on Thursday that features newcomers in Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings.