Chris Bosh’s Impact On The Miami Heat Goes Beyond Statistics

Feb 7, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh (1) is pressured by Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul Pierce (34) during the second half at American Airlines Arena. The Clippers won 100-93. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 7, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh (1) is pressured by Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul Pierce (34) during the second half at American Airlines Arena. The Clippers won 100-93. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

It goes without saying that Chris Bosh’s health comes first, but if his blood clots are no longer a current issue, the Miami Heat need his help.

Chris Bosh wasn’t played after the All-Star Break as his issues with deep vein thrombosis returned, but he said last week that he’s positive he’ll be able to return this season now that those concerns have been taken care of.

It might be easy to look at the pre– and post-All-Star numbers of the Miami Heat and say they’re a better team without him, but that is a little shortsighted. It is easy to forget a 14-game trend isn’t the same as the 53 games before the break. One thing I noticed was the team has been steadily picking up the pace as the season wears on.

They’re currently a team closer to running 100 possessions a game than the one that was in the mid- to lower 90s earlier in the season. It may only be a few more possessions a game, but that does tell me they’ve been evolving all season.

The biggest change was bringing Hassan Whiteside off the bench, something they’ve been doing since Feb. 3 against the Dallas Mavericks. Whiteside has starter’s skills, so bringing him off the bench allows the Heat to have a favorable matchup where he can continue to do a considerable amount of damage.

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In fact, he’s been more productive coming off the bench than when he was a starter. While Amar’e Stoudemire‘s spot as the starter right now is still questionable, the arrangement has been working for the Heat.

Really all this we bring us to a few important questions, the first being do the Heat need Bosh back and the second being how does he fit in this evolving Miami team?

Let’s go over the second question first, to which my answer is … I’m not sure.

So if Bosh returns, that mean either Luol Deng or Stoudemire will be giving up their spot and going to the bench. Do you bring Whiteside back into the starting lineup? It is hard to say exactly how coach Erik Spoelstra will go about it, but it seems likely they’d want to roll out Goran Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Bosh, Deng, and leave Stoudemire in as a center.

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It would accomplish the goal of being a faster team — something that has been working well for them lately — while allowing Whiteside to remain as a force of nature coming off the bench.

I don’t think finding a fit in the slightly faster lineup is an issue. It isn’t like they overhauled the entire team, they’ve just moved around a few part. And with the addition of Joe Johnson to the mix, whatever lineup the Heat use won’t be one that we’ve seen this season.

The only possible snag is how well he keeps up in the Heat’s faster lineups. Miami’s had a few strong offensive lineups with Bosh in them, but they tended to be slower paced. I don’t think this is an issue as much as an adjustment the Heat and Bosh will make. He’s adding another option, and a good one, to a powerful Miami offense.

He is decent in the pick and roll and their best post-up option. On the defensive side, he gives the Heat a more stout defender and rim protector that they’ve had with Whiteside, Deng, or some of the other big men.

I believe will likely see the version of Bosh we saw take on the Atlanta Hawks on Dec. 14th. Bosh wasn’t afraid to shoot 3-pointers as he went 4-of-6 in that game while scoring 24 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Bosh will likely slow the Heat’s pace down slightly, but he can still be effective if the pace is faster than most of the games he played in before the All-Star break.

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But the more important answer here is yes, the Miami Heat need Bosh back. Bosh has been a target of fan criticism throughout his entire career, and sometimes that clouds judgment. Whether it was as the good player on a bad team with the Toronto Raptors or as the third wheel in the Heat’s Big Three, the casual fan often forgets just how valuable Bosh is.

You could look back to 2012 when the Heat struggled with the proto-Indiana Pacers that weren’t quite ready to make two straight Eastern Conference Finals appearances. Without Bosh’s rebounding and scoring, Miami actually was down a game to those Pacers.

While that series highlighted the need for Bosh, the 2014 Finals did the best job of illustrating the sort of veteran savvy Bosh brings. His rebound and awareness to find an open Ray Allen saved the Heat’s title chances. He followed that play up with a block of Danny Green, sealing the Game 6 victory.

You can bring up the fact he was scoreless in Game 7, but he still had a positive net rating to go with his seven rebounds, and more importantly, the Heat won.

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I don’t want to overstate what those plays were, but Bosh is the type of player that brings those sort of intangible attributes to a team. He has a knack for being in the right place at the right time, especially in the Heat’s biggest moments. The Heat don’t need his 19.1 points a game as much as they need him to be out there.

I’m normally one to rely heavily on stats and analytics when assessing things, but they aren’t as useful when you have a team like this that has evolved into something else as the season drags on. Some of the same numbers you can hold against Bosh you would have to hold against Deng, Wade, and the rest of Miami’s roster.

You aren’t going to look at their on/off numbers and suggest two of their best players need benching. The Heat are continuing to evolve and it looks like they are only getting better.

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This Heat team will adapt around Bosh and Bosh to it. Maybe they slow things down a bit, but it seems clear they need to keep things in high gear. Bosh will find his role in this ever-changing but growing threat of a Miami Heat team.