May 27, 2014, 1:11 AM EDT
Dribbling out the final moments of Game 4 with the Heat up 102-90, Dwyane Wade committed a shot-clock violation with 0.4 seconds remaining. Begrudgingly, George Hill went to inbound the ball to close the game. He cared so little about that final pass, he threw it to Wade and committed yet another Pacers turnover.
Before Hill threw in the ball, LeBron James looked to the far end of the court, smiled and pointed. Maybe his mind had wandered elsewhere. The game’s result was no longer in question, and he certainly deserved to unwind after relentlessly tormenting Indiana all night.
Or maybe he was pointing out Chris Bosh, who’d returned to the other end of the court to defend what was, for everyone else, a meaningless play.
Bosh came to play Monday – opening Game 4 on a personal 8-0 run and scoring 25 points – and didn’t stop until his task was completely finished.
The Heat have struggled with slow starts in this series, but they never trailed in Game 4. What changed?
“Chris Bosh,” LeBron said.
Bosh scored 10 points in the first half of the first quarter – more than his full-game scoring in any other game this series.
- Games 1-3: 27 points in 90 minutes
- Game 4: 25 points in 36 minutes
The Pacers needed most of the first quarter just to pass Bosh himself in scoring.
On the other end of the court, Bosh helped hold Roy Hibbert scoreless. Though Hibbert is clearly in his own head at this point, Bosh’s early defense helped Hibbert get there. Hibbert has a significant size advantage, but Bosh helped keep the ball from his hands early, and Hibbert never got into the game.
Remarkably, this is the first time Bosh has outscored Hibbert in a playoff game. Here are their point totals in the Miami-Indiana matchups the last three years. (Bosh missed Games 2-6 of the 2012 second-round series.)
Bosh is red, and Hibbert is blue.
After Game 4, Spoelstra defended Bosh’s previous three games, noting how many below-the-radar plays Bosh made to help Miami. And it’s true. Bosh was probably unfairly criticized recently.
But even when Bosh makes the little plays, scoring is a key part of his game. Not all of Bosh’s reasonably expected contributions get noticed by casual observers, but some definitely do.
Monday, Bosh did everything – big and small – to help the Heat. On both sides of the ball, they performed so much better when he was off the court compared to when he was on it.
- Offensive rating: 103.8 to 125.8
- Defensive rating: 134.9 to 98.9
- Net rating: -31.1 to +26.9
Miami had no trouble winning this game, and that’s because Bosh showed up and never let up. The Heat now lead the series 3-1, taking complete control.
And they did it following Bosh.
As long as Miami keeps taking direction from Bosh – and maintaining maximum focus until the very end – this series is over.
- Breaking down Western Conference playoff chase with two weeks left in season 4
- Breaking down Eastern Conference playoff chase with two weeks left in season 5
- Five Things We Learned in NBA Sunday: Dwyane Wade is going to will Heat into playoffs 13
- Sad news: Craig Sager announces his cancer has returned 16
- NBA players’ union head believes new labor deal can be reached without a work stoppage 11
- Kendrick Perkins says you’re blowing the LeBron James/Kevin Love thing way out of proportion 23
- Mark Cuban rips officials, NBA: ‘It’s criminal’ how Monta Ellis doesn’t get calls 25
- Shaquille O’Neal says he regrets leaving Magic for Lakers 43