It’s not his fault he hasn’t lived up to the superstar hype contrived by fusing together with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade years ago. Bosh was never supposed to be the leader of Miami’s Big Three; he was never even supposed to be the No. 2.
So to criticize Bosh for not being a superstar against Indiana, when that was never the design, is unprincipled. The eight-time All-Star sits in the backseat, an efficient, yet secondary, option in Miami’s offense.
He altered his position and role for the betterment of the Heat, and now his undersized placement as center is not working against the size of the Pacers.
None of this is new.
Bosh changed to win in Miami
Bosh’s scoring and shot attempts dropped from 16.5 per game in 2009-10, his last season with the Toronto Raptors, to 13.7 attempts in his first year with Miami. This season, Bosh averaged just 12.3 attempts per game, his fewest field-goal attempts since his rookie year.
At 6'11" and 235 pounds, Bosh is a hybrid of a center and a forward, which is both an asset and a detriment.
He’s not a back-to-the-basket option offensively, which works well within the Heat’s offensive system. He spreads the floor and opens up the middle for Miami, and his versatility allows the Heat to put more perimeter threats on the floor.
Bosh’s offense hasn't been of superstar quality, but his regular season numbers this past season were the most efficient of his career. His scoring was down to 16.6 points per game this season, the lowest since his rookie year, but his 53.5 shooting percentage was the highest of his career.
The issue against Indiana
There’s an obvious limitation to that versatility, however, and it’s being exposed against the Pacers.
Bosh becomes a defensive liability and is drastically weaker on the boards in his matchup with Indiana’s 7’2” center Roy Hibbert.
It isn’t Bosh’s fault; he has been nothing but yielding to make the Heat as successful as they’ve been.
Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated quoted Bosh before Game 4:
One thing I've learned since I've been here is what you really have to sacrifice in order to be on a winning team. A case in point is guarding Roy Hibbert. If I had my choice, I [wouldn't] want to wrestle with that guy for a whole game. Him and David West? Well, David West I probably have to -- but not Roy Hibbert. But I'm going to have to come in, do my job, do it well in order for us to win.
The Heat’s once fruitful scheme of allowing the stringier Bosh to play center is now crushing them against Indiana. Bosh cannot contain Hibbert nor can he produce against the Pacers’ center.
Simply put, Bosh is getting owned.
|Bosh v. the Pacers||Hibbert v. the Heat|
Bosh has only been accommodating though, and it's not his wrongdoing for being placed in the overly mismatched predicament he's in.
Indiana’s interior strength appears to be too much for Bosh. He cannot handle the blossoming low-block offensive game of the Georgetown product, and he can't find his offensive game inside either.
Bosh scored just seven points on 1-of-6 shooting in Game 4 battling foul trouble and a tweaked ankle.
"He's getting offensive rebounds," Bosh said after the game, according to Shandel Richardson of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. "We have to eliminate that. Once he gets it down there, he's pretty much just putting it back. He's using his size and he's doing it well. We're going to have to do a better job of post-line defense and limiting his easy looks."
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra may need to adjust the primary use of Bosh at center, but in fairness, Hibbert took it to Chris Andersen with ease too in Game 4.
Bosh must try to adjust.
It's a simple sentiment, but Bosh is going to have to work harder and play more physical for Miami to succeed. There were too many moments of Game 4 in which Bosh stood watching Hibbert work.
That can't happen.
As much as the Heat are still favorites, Bosh is the clear underdog and he can't afford to work less.
It may not be his fault, but something must change or else the Pacers might bully their way to a conference finals upset.