Why Chris Bosh's Rebounding Is Not Miami Heat's Biggest Problem

Roy Burton@thebslineContributor IFebruary 16, 2013

PHOENIX, AZ - NOVEMBER 17:  Chris Bosh #1 of the Miami Heat warms up before the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on November 17, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Heat defeated the Suns 97-88. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Miami Heat are dead last in the league in rebounding (46.8 per game) and 23rd in the league in total rebounding rate (48.9 percent, per Team Rankings), leaving many to point the finger squarely at the third wheel of the infamous South Beach trio.

"I'm my own toughest critic," said Heat forward Chris Bosh in an interview with Tom D'Angelo of The Palm Beach Post in late January. "I realize I have to do better."

Bosh doesn't need to be all that harsh on himself, however. His rebounding average has, in fact, dipped a bit this season (7.4 boards per game vs. 7.9 RPG in 2011-12), but part of that is because he plays farther away from the basket than he has in years past.

The 28-year-old Bosh put in serious work on his mid-range game this summer, and his markedly improved jumper—Bosh is shooting a ridiculous 55 percent from 16-to-23 feet (per HOOPDATA) this season—has led Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra to set up his center 15-plus feet away from the rim at times on offense.

Bosh may be listed as the team's center, but when Miami goes with their bigger lineup, you'll often see Udonis Haslem or Joel Anthony roaming the paint.

Furthermore, it's exceptionally hard to rack up impressive numbers on the glass when the focal points of the Miami offense aren't missing all that many shots.

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Bosh have accounted for nearly 57 percent of Miami's field goal attempts this season, and all three are currently boasting career-best shooting percentages (per Basketball-Reference.com) from the floor (James: 56.5 percent, Wade: 50.5, Bosh: 55.5).

Even still, the former Toronto Raptors' star is grabbing more offensive rebounds per game (per Basketball-Reference.com) in 2012-13 (2.2 RPG) than he did in either of his first two seasons in Miami. And after a rough January (15.3 PPG, 6.4 RPG), Bosh has rebounded (no pun intended) quite nicely so far in February (21.3 PPG, 7.5 RPG).

But while winning the battle of the boards is often one of the keys to a team's success, Miami knows that several other facets of the game are just as vital as rebounding.

"There are more important factors for us," said Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra in regards to his team's rebounding woes in an interview with ESPN's Tom Haberstroh in late January. "If we force turnovers and win the turnover game, that's the most important thing."

So far this season, Miami has pressured their opponents into 15.2 turnovers per game, and the Heat's plus-1.8 turnover margin is the fourth-best mark in the Association.

"Raw rebounds are a misleading stat," said Shane Battier in an interview with the The Palm Beach Post. "For us, turnovers are pretty much everything."

So if Bosh isn't the Heat's biggest weakness, then what exactly is Miami's main concern heading into the homestretch? Well...despite the fact that the team added Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis in the offseason, their bench continues to be woefully inconsistent. It's clear that the Heat are far too reliant on their Big 3: James, Wade and Bosh have combined to score 64 percent of Miami's points this season.

The Heat have shown that they're more than capable of beating opponents even when they're outrebounded (17-8 on the season), but Miami is nearly undefeated when their bench outscores their opponents' subs (14-1). If the Heat's second unit can relieve some of the scoring burden on James, Wade and Bosh, a second straight title is all but a certainty.

Perhaps, only then will the critics begin to ease up on Bosh. He's a popular scapegoat for many of Miami's problems, but everyone in the Heat locker room knows exactly how much he truly means to the team.

"[Bosh] just makes things rock solid for us," Spoelstra told the South Florida Sun Sentinel after Bosh returned from a two-game absence in early February. "We don't want to take it for granted."