|Without Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have a razor thin margin for error. (US Presswire)|
What an amazing turn of events in the past couple days. The NBA's whipping boy, Chris Bosh, has all of a sudden become evidently one of the most important players in the league.
Not long ago was Bosh the focus of complaints, gripes and grumbles. He doesn't rebound, doesn't score inside, doesn't do his part. Some of that, absolutely true at times. But as Game 2 against the Pacers showcased, Bosh's value to the currently constructed Heat is priceless.
Bosh is out "indefinitely" with an abdominal strain, but the consensus is that it will likely be four weeks, at least. One week though, might be too long.
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Consider this: In the first playoff game of the Big 3 era in Miami, the third highest scorer for the Heat had five points. Five. Bosh has his faults, has his blemishes and has things he could do better, but he would've scored more than five points.
As you watched the Miami offense sputter late in the second half looking for shots, all I could picture was Bosh pick-and-popping for an easy 18-foot jumper. There's no doubt he would've hit at least one, probably two and maybe three in the last three minutes of that game. Something as simple as that little added option is what has separated the Heat.
Still, the Heat should've won regardless. They missed layups, free throws, didn't grab rebounds and did a heap of things that helped give the game to Indiana. The series should probably be 2-0, but regardless of that, the question has now become, can the Heat win without Chris Bosh?
At this point, that question has to be recalibrated. It was, "Can the Heat win an NBA title if Chris Bosh is out?" but now is, "Can the Heat beat the Pacers without Chris Bosh?" Because it's obvious: There are problems. There are problems inside defending David West and Roy Hibbert. Issues on the glass where the Pacers were a plus-10 on the boards. Issues with the offense where the Heat didn't have any extra options, no bailout late in the clock.
Game 2 might've revealed enough to make you wonder about the Heat right now. LeBron and Wade's margin for error has been greatly decreased. Because look at that roster sans Bosh. Their third best player: Mario Chalmers? Shane Battier? Udonis Haslem? Think about that. Mario Chalmers is probably the third best player on a team that's supposed to be contending for an NBA title. The third best player in Oklahoma City? James Harden. Third best player in San Antonio? Manu Ginobili (or Tim Duncan, whatever). Lakers, Andrew Bynum. Boston, Paul Pierce/Rajon Rondo/Ray Allen. Heck, I'm sure the Heat would prefer Caron Butler, Thaddeus Young or Paul George by leaps and bounds over Chalmers to play their third fiddle.
The whole plan in Miami was concocted around a team built with three heads, and some tentacles that could do just enough. It was never part of the blueprint to call one of those arms up. It became very obvious, very quickly, how thin the Heat really are. They have no depth. None. They have an incredible tandem in LeBron and Wade -- two superstars who can carry the load and do great things -- but those two have to be near perfect now.
The Heat might have enough to get by the Pacers behind LeBron and Wade, but the Celtics? The Spurs or Thunder? Chris Bosh might've been the scapegoat in Miami, might've been the guy that everyone thought should be traded, the black sheep of the group, but he clearly was extremely valuable to their success. If any team suffered an injury to one of their three best players, it would be a blow. But to the Heat, it looks catastrophic.