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Miami still figuring out how to use Chris Bosh

Nov 11, 2010, 8:46 AM EDT

Utah Jazz v Miami Heat Getty Images

Every fanbase seems to pick someone on the team to be their whipping boy — the guy whose fault it is, even when it isn’t. Someone to be the lightning rod of fan wrath.

In Miami, it seems to have become Chris Bosh. And with the now national Heat fan base, he has taken incoming fire from all directions in the last few days, as the Heat have dared show they are still figuring it all out. Jason Whitlock was the most over the top, but his voice speaks for a lot of people. I think his conclusions are wrong, but he speaks for a lot of people.

I’ve compared Bosh to Pau Gasol before because I think it’s apt — not directly in terms of game, they are different in style and Gasol is far more polished; but in terms of situation. These are not guys who can carry teams on their own to titles, but if used right can be key cogs in getting the rings. They are very good second options. Or for Bosh, third option. But we then can’t get mad at them for not acting like option number one.

First, Bosh is not soft. Nor is Gasol. What they are not are classic bangers — you cannot match them up on a true, old-school center and expect them to act like Patrick Ewing. Same is true with physical power forwards. What you need to make either of them their best is a real center next to them — Gasol is freed up to do a lot when Andrew Bynum is along side to rebound and do the dirty work. Bynum is the banger, the guy who blocks shots. (Odom has been doing some of that lately.)

Miami has nobody like that. Not Joel Anthony, not Big Z. So Bosh is asked to do things that are not really in his wheelhouse, then he gets called out for not doing them well. What he needs is not to be asked to do them so much, but that is not the Heat’s roster right now.

That said, Gasol learned to stand his ground better, and Bosh needs to. Right now he is too tentative.

Secondly, the Heat have yet to figure out how to use him on offense. It’s something you could see at the end of the loss to the Jazz, as Zach at The Point Forward explains perfectly:

Bosh did not attempt a shot or draw a foul after the 5:11 mark of the fourth quarter Tuesday night despite being on the floor for that entire stretch — and being matched with slow-footed Kyrylo Fesenko, who clearly could not guard him. The Heat isolated for Bosh on back-to-back possessions a little more than four minutes into the fourth, and he blew by Fesenko both times, drawing two shooting fouls. He made 2-of-4 free throws, and then scored two minutes later on a gorgeous pick-and-roll with LeBron James.

After that? He acted the part of a classic big man role player. He screened for James. He set up a screen-and-dribble hand-off for James. He screened for Dwyane Wade on most of Wade’s drives in overtime. He acted as a decoy on Wade’s game-tying three-pointer with 17 seconds left in the game.

A $110 million decoy: That’s what Bosh was for the last 10 minutes of the game.

That is not all on Bosh — he’s a big, one of the ball handlers needs to call his number than get him the ball. If he has the mismatch, exploit it. Problem is, James and Dwyane Wade are walking mismatches, so they see that and call their own numbers all the time.

The Heat paid Bosh big-time money but we all knew he was option number three in the offense from the start. And that is not going to mean huge numbers on this team. His teammates need to do a better job of recognizing when he has the mismatch and to get him the ball in spots he can succeed. Still, at the end of the game you’d rather have James and Wade making the plays. They are better at it.

So Bosh is what he is. The third wheel. Not somebody you trade, somebody you need to learn to use better. But still the third wheel.

  1. doggyeat2 - Nov 11, 2010 at 10:53 AM

    I hate to tell you the truth because I don’t like Miami. First of all you got it all wrong comparing Bosh to Pau Gasol. Pau Gasol is the second option, Pau is a much taller player who can easily play power forward or center without a problem. You would be better off comparing Chris Bosh to Lamar Odom. Lamar is the third option most of the time since Bynum has seen very little playing time throughout the years. Lamar had a few years initially when he couldn’t find his place, his role on the Lakers. That is Chris Bosh right now! He’s lost on the court. Honestly thou…Chris Bosh is overated (you know that was coming). I think the Miami heat need to revamp their roster a bit and get rid of Chris Bosh. He aint any good! Remember Allen Iverson and going to the Denver Nuggets. He was a true offensive threat but unless you can play together and use your strength’s for the good of your team you aint goin anywhere! Once they got Chauncy in Denver they really began to be a western conference threat to the Lakers and they were considered the second best team in the west.

    Come-on! Stop comparing Bosh to Pau. That’s an insult to Pau and all the Spaniards who saw him win a world championship playing “CENTER”. Can Bosh play comfortably at center??? NO!!! Please compare him to Lamar Odom who is also 6-10′. If Bosh can play center so can Lamar, who played that position for the USA basketball team this past summer.

    Lamar is also the third option when Bynum is out!

    PLEASE STOP INSULTING PAU GASOL WHO IS ON ANOTHER PLANET COMPARED TO CHRIS BOSH!!

  2. eazye76 - Nov 11, 2010 at 10:59 AM

    The team as a whole would be better with a guy who is not the caliber of player that Bosh is but who is physical. If you have James and Wade you don’t need a top-notch finesse player, you need a solid bruiser.

  3. silencegooddoer - Nov 11, 2010 at 12:12 PM

    What a trainwreck the Heat have become. It is painful! Seriously, they aquired Bosh without having an idea of how to use him???? How backwards is that? It is a shame that the media has chosen to give them that much attention just because of the star power they have; mainly in LeBron. Individualy they provide some good highlights, but they are a complete disgraceful example of a team. A couple of weeks ago Riley said they need a better person at point guard, and aparently are now searching. It doesn’t take a genious to tell them they have no center either! This was the worst orchastrated team in sprts history. Seems like alot of Hype and no substance.

    The Lakers are a much better “team.” Hell, I just looked at the NBA standings and the Cavs are in first place in thier division without LeBron! I wish the media would wait until the Heat gets a plan before over-exposing them like they have been doing. It is disrespectful to the other franchises and coaches that have a clue and are executing thier plans.

  4. hnirobert3 - Nov 11, 2010 at 1:00 PM

    He should have never cut the dreads…

  5. davidly - Nov 11, 2010 at 1:59 PM

    I think I get it now. The Heat went for Bosh as well, even though they figured that he wouldn’t be a great fit in this line-up. But they also knew that by acquiring all three stars instead of just vying for James, they could keep the top two salaries lower.

    Now they can trade Bosh and get what they need.

  6. fouldwimmerliak - Nov 11, 2010 at 2:39 PM

    How long will it be before Riley fires Spoelstra and makes himself the head coach? He wants to catch my beloved Phil Jackson in the rings department. But he never will. Riley is so arrogant that he thought he could sign two stars, one over-rated, ET looking, over-rated (and did I say over-rated yet?) fool like Bosh, put them on the floor with no other team to speak of, and expect they would win a championship.

    Riley will never catch my beloved Phil.

  7. zblott - Nov 11, 2010 at 3:02 PM

    The Heat’s 5-3 is one of the league’s biggest surprises. Here are 5 of the biggest surprises so far this year:

    http://www.hoopskarma.com/hk/2010/11/11/5-big-surprises-in-2010-11.html

  8. lettercable - Nov 11, 2010 at 3:09 PM

    There is nothing wrong with Chris Bosh.

    What is wrong is the expectation that the Miami Heat would blow out every other team they play from DAY ONE.

    Remember, these guys are justing starting to figure themselves out. It’s a TEAM GAME. When the team finally blends into one unit, watch out.

    At the end of the season and into the playoffs, it would be foolish to bet against them.

    Chris Bosh is a very good player.

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