What a difference a day can make.
Yesterday, if you heard anyone talking about the Miami Heat, you would have been hearing people either commenting on their demise or possibly snickering over their misfortune. Today, after a 94-88 win over the red hot defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, winners of 8 straight coming into their game with the Miami, your going to hear about how all is right with the Heat.
And maybe it is, for a game anyway, and if that’s true, the thanks can go to the Heats Chris Bosh. Bosh, who has been inexplicably a non-factor this season, got what he wanted on Thursday night, the ball in the paint, and he made the Lakers pay for his frustrations.
"This was a very big game, and we had everything riding on it," Bosh said when asked if he felt vindicated by his performance. "I put everything I have into it. When it’s time to play, the way I know I can play, I just go out there and let it happen. I know I can help this team in a different way. I told [Spoelstra], I wasn’t playing around."
This gutty performance by Bosh came after he talked of getting more opportunities and touches in the paint earlier in the week. Well, he got them, and unlike many athletes who get burned by getting what they asked for, he delivered on his words. Though possibly a surprise to those watching, Bosh’s performance against the Lakers (24 pts, 9 rebounds) came as no shock to his coach and teammates who witnessed the stars focus and intensity during practice leading up to the game.
"He went full speed," Spoelstra said of Bosh’s pace during what, for everyone else, was essentially a walk-through in preparation for the Lakers. "He was also very demonstrative and vocal to everybody. It almost caught everybody by surprise. It was a great step in leadership on his part."
The new and more aggressive Bosh stayed up tempo all game and came out the better against contemporary Pau Gasol, who is also considered to be one of the best big men in the game today. This performance was noted and appreciated by teammates.
"When you ask for the ball and get it, you have to do something with it, and Chris did it," Wade said. "We know he wants the ball more, and now we’ve figured out more areas where he can be effective. This lets us know that he’s ready, he wants to win and he wants the ball. He’s not shying away from it."
The big question coming out of Thursday’s game is whether or not Bosh can keep up this style of play and not revert to the inconsistent afterthought he has been up to this point. If the Heat are going to have any type of success in the post season, they are going to need all three of their stars at their peak, most notably Bosh.
But if the game against the Lakers is any indication, Bosh may finally be clued into where and what he needs to be for this team to succeed. He just needs to prove he can bring it night after night, a fact that isn’t lost on him.
"I take the mentality that I have to prove something every day," Bosh said. "Tomorrow and Saturday, I’m going to prove the same thing. You keep proving yourself, and the next day you do it again. It’s just believing in myself and making plays. I can do that with the best of them."