Not one, not two, but three.
The number three has defined Chris Bosh ever since he signed with the Miami Heat. Always the third option behind two of the greatest players to ever play the game, Bosh has faced major scrutiny during his Heat tenure.
He's dealt with the dinosaur jokes. He's been called a soft inside player. His emotional playing style and candid interviews have been parodied on Twitter.
And yet, three is also the number of three-pointers Chris Bosh made against the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Three is the number of games the Miami Heat lost against the Celtics when he sat out or played limited minutes.
Anyone who watched Game 7 would tell you that Chris Bosh was the X-factor. He went 8-of-10 from the field, and most of them were momentum-shifting shots. I thought that after Game 7 (and the Celtics series as a whole, where the Heat were clearly struggling without Bosh), his value would finally be appreciated.
In the time after the game, writers have begun their NBA Finals "matchups at every position" analyses. Lo and behold, many are calling the PF position (Serge Ibaka vs. Chris Bosh) an even matchup or even an advantage for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Here we go again.
First of all, let me say that I know that Bosh and Ibaka won't always be matched up in the same position. Bosh is sometimes at center without Anthony, Haslem, etc. on the court, and Ibaka sometimes plays center without Perkins. Regardless, I felt it necessary to address the Bosh vs. Ibaka argument.
Listen, I have nothing against Serge Ibaka. He's only in his third season, and I think he's going to be a great player for years to come. He's already better on defense than Bosh. He also has a great name that can be easily converted into puns, which is always important.
The problem is, people forget just how good Chris Bosh is. He averaged more than 22 ppg for five straight seasons with the Toronto Raptors. His final stat line before coming to Miami: 24.0 ppg, 10.8 rebs, 2.4 ast, 1.0 blk. Also, all of that came while shooting .518 from the field.
He led the Raptors to the playoffs twice. I know they lost both series, but does anyone realize the players that were on those Toronto teams?
In a Game 5 against the Orlando Magic, Chris Bosh had 39 points and 15 rebounds in the loss. In that same game, we were treated to (playing for the Raptors): 37 minutes of Anthony Parker, 34 minutes from Jason Kapono, 30 minutes from T.J. Ford and 20 minutes of Jamario Moon (who started). Enough said.
Maybe this isn't a completely fair way of comparing, but do you think that team makes the playoffs with a Bosh-Ibaka swap? Didn't think so.
Serge Ibaka is a great defender and a good mid-range shooter. However, his entire offensive game is courtesy of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. They have been blowing past the old defenders of the Mavericks, Lakers and Spurs for the past three rounds, setting up Ibaka in his sweet spots.
Basketball isn't all about statistics, but Serge Ibaka only averages 9.1 points and 7.5 rebounds a game. Yes, his 3.7 blocks are impressive, but he's only half of the offensive threat that Chris Bosh is. By his third season, Chris Bosh was already putting up 22.5 ppg.
Ibaka's 11-of-11 performance in Game 4 has made his offense slightly overrated because of the casual NBA playoff fan. The fact is, Chris Bosh is the better basketball player right now. There should be no surprise or shame with that statement. Bosh is a nine-year veteran who is versatile on offense, and Ibaka is only in his third season.
Bosh has easily had to make more sacrifices in statistics and number of touches than LeBron or Wade. Let's not hold that against him by forgetting how good of a basketball player he is, despite any prehistoric resemblances.
Advantage: Miami Heat
Who do you think has the advantage: Ibaka or Bosh? Let me know in the comments section. I'll happily respond to any differences in opinion.
Nick Pournaras will be a senior at Penn State University this fall. Follow him on Twitter @Professor_Po
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