The Miami Heat's roster still runs just three players deep and, since we're getting closer to playoff time, their opponents are starting to go all out. The result? The Heat have now lost five straight games after falling to the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night, 105-96.
Afterwards, the Sun-Sentinel reported that the big story out of South Beach was power forward Chris Bosh's declaration that he needs to be doing more damage in the paint.
"Was I effective today? It's common sense. I think it's evident. I just have to get it where I'm effective," Bosh said of a lack of low-post touches, having spent much of this season as a prop for James and Wade. "I have to get it where big guys get it. Then, I feel I can start helping out this team more.
"I'm effective down in the low-post area. That's where I need to start getting the ball. I need to be assertive and demanding."Heat guard Dwyane Wade co-signed Bosh's hypothesis.
"We have to figure out the way to help Chris be more aggressive," Wade said. "We'll figure that out. I think, throughout this year, we've all had spells when we wanted the ball more."Does Bosh's prescription have merit? That's an open question. But there's no debating that his analysis of his own shot distribution is correct.
If you take a look at the following chart of data, pulled from HoopData.com, you can see Bosh's field goal attempts for each of the last five seasons. His overall shot numbers are down this year, which should come as no surprise because he went from franchise player to third wheel when he decided to team up with Wade and LeBron James last summer.
What's most interesting about the data, though, is the location distribution of his attempts. Not only is Bosh averaging a five-year low in field goal attempts, but only 53% of those attempts are coming from inside 15 feet, which is also a five-year low. That number is particularly eye-opening when compared to last season, Bosh's contract year, when he took 71% of his shots from within 15 feet, which was by far a five-year high.
While Bosh's inside attempts are a five-year low, his outside attempts are near a five-year high. This season, he's averaging 6.5 field goal attempts from outside 15 feet, nearly two more outside attempts per game compared to last year. These numbers reflect Bosh's role in the offense: he's asked to hit pick and pop jumpers and serve as a release point on the weakside when Wade and James operate with the ball. He's also regularly used at the high post, where he's able to use his ballhandling and versatile skillset to attack a defense in many ways.
And that's the problem. Bosh's shot chart breakdown this year is essentially by design. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has praised Bosh's play this season, calling him perhaps Miami's most important player. He's being used as his coaching staff feels he is most effective in the team concept. To suddenly and violently switch course - throwing Bosh deeper and more regularly into the post - will have all sorts of secondary impacts, including taking touches away from Wade and James. It will also likely serve to grind Miami's offense down even more. Without any truly serviceable big men, Bosh can expect teams to double off of Miami's centers, collapsing on him mercilessly. And remember: Miami has about five weeks to figure this out before the playoffs start.
In other words, if you're skeptical about Bosh and ready to bet against him delivering the Heat to greatness, I won't stand in your way.