Following the indefinite loss of Chris Bosh, now more than ever, the Miami Heat need their and the league’s MVP to play like it.
LeBron James secured a fairly consensual MVP award on the weekend after having the most efficient and effective season of his career.
Dwyane Wade has openly admitted that he decided it was in the best interests for himself and the team to take a step back and embrace the role of being the second option because it wasn’t the most beneficial situation having two no.1s.
Since the turn of the new year it has been evident that Miami have placed more emphasis on James’ game than Wade’s, highlighted by his third MVP award.
This has also been clear through the new configuration of the first rotation that sees Mike Miller replace Mario Chalmers, with James moving to the point guard position, ensuring the ball is in his hands every possession, regardless of who takes the shot.
It’s assumed that Wade, James and the Heat’s coaching staff sat down and addressed the issue and that particular rotational ploy was one of the results of it. What is for sure is that the Miami Heat were a better team because of it.
Chris Bosh is just as responsible for the success of the team as either of the other two, solely because he allows them to play their games more effectively and efficiently. Because of his rare range, he allows floor spacing that James and Wade never had the luxury of exploiting before as Bosh drags big men away from the basket and out of the paint, leaving a freer lane for the wingers to slash. Should the paint collapse and they find themselves in traffic, Wade and James may be the two best distributing swingmen of their generation, and having Bosh hovering around the 10-20ft zones is as good an option as you can find in the league.
Without him it will certainly make it easier to defend those two. Miami began the year emphasising high percentage shots and taking advantage of the mismatch that James and Wade bring to every showdown. That saw both isolated in high and low post situations. Look for that to be a key ingredient of their offense through the remainder of the series as it removes the Pacers superior big men such as Roy Hibbert from the occasion. It also offers the likely possibility of double teams or attempted traps, meaning the two willing passers will have shooters such as Miller, Battier, Jones and Chalmers with good looks.
Obviously this is not the ideal situation for Miami, but I make the case that they would much prefer Bosh miss the Indiana series as opposed to the Celtics or even the Knicks. The Pacers, like Miami, play with undersized bigs (excluding Roy Hibbert) because of their ability to run the floor and gain extra possessions. Indiana play a similar style of game to Miami (again excluding the use of Roy Hibbert), moving the ball through their 2 and 3 and getting good looks for their expansive 4. Because they are a short team, the height of Bosh will not be crucial to the series. LeBron James can and did defend Indiana’s 4s and 5s during game 1 and will do so all series. The luxury of having him on the defensive end is priceless. He showed that he not only acknowledges the need, but wants to take the rebounding slack left by Chris Bosh, pulling down 15 key rebounds in game 1.
Miami host Indiana in game 2 in just under an hours time as they look to take a 2-0 series lead. It will be a different looking Heat team, but expect a very similar outburst to game 1 from their two superstars. It is entirely on their broad shoulders now, if it wasn’t already before.