Chris Bosh predicted his clashes with Indiana center Roy Hibbert, the prototypical 7-2 immovable object, would be pivotal to the fulfillment of the Miami Heat’s Eastern Conference championship aspirations. While the Pacers rely on their bigs, the Heat practices modern small ball, or as Coach Erik Spoelstra likes to call it, positionless basketball. With the league’s best rebounding team playing against its worst, something had to give, and Game 1 on Wednesday night provided an indication: Size still matters in the NBA, just not as much as it used to. With Hibbert on the bench, LeBron James snaked to the rim for the winning layup as time expired in overtime. The Heat survived 103-102 to take the lead in the best-of-seven series. Bosh was critical to the success of the final play. His presence as a threat to step away from the paint and shoot kept Hibbert on the sideline in favor of a mobile defender. In essence, Bosh made more of a difference as a decoy than as a scorer. That was enough in Game 1 against the underdog Pacers but it won’t be enough down the road. Before the game, on the plaza of AmericanAirlines Arena, it was hard to miss Shaquille O’Neal, who was providing commentary with his TNT mates. “Shaq is back,” fans cried out, snapping photos and waving a little longingly at His Bigness. “Hey, Shaq!” The Heat could have used him. The Pacers kept the game tight by forcing Miami’s players into their discomfort zone -- a deliberate half court game rather than their preferred breathless transition game. “Our guys earned the ice bags and ice baths,” Spoelstra said. The 6-11 Bosh considers himself an unconventional center. His job is to keep things fluid so Miami can run, run, run Indiana into mistakes and into the ground. He’s got to use his soft shooting touch to lure Hibbert from his lair in the post where he keeps a lid on things. He did so late in the third quarter, uprooting Hibbert on a short jumper. Hibbert lunged, hit Bosh on the wrist and went to the bench with four fouls while Bosh swished two free throws.
Bosh needs to be more than an X-factor
Miami Herald | May 23