The Heat's Chris Bosh blocks a shot by the Thunder's Serge Ibaka in the first quarter during Game 2 of the NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on Thursday, June 14, 2012.
Miami made it clear following its Game 1 loss to Oklahoma City Chris Bosh would be more involved in Game 2. Mission accomplished.
Bosh broke the starting lineup for the first time since May 13, when he sustained an abdominal injury against the Pacers.
He couldnt find a rhythm in Game 1 against the Thunder, playing 34 minutes while shooting just 4 of 11 for 10 points and recording five rebounds in the 105-94 loss.
Game 2, a thrilling 100-96 win for Miami, was a somewhat different story as the Heat center played 40 minutes, scoring 16 points and adding an impressive, game-high 15 rebounds.
He played the first nine minutes and 49 seconds of the game and showed how he can make a difference in this series. He was strong defensively inside, had a long reach on the perimeter defense and earned points in the paint.
Serge Ibaka was the first Thunder player to draw coverage from Bosh and the Heat center, was up to the task, keeping Ibaka scoreless when one-on-one in the first half.
Bosh scored his first points as a starter since Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals with 7:23 left in the first. He started top of the key and darted left, then inside to draw a foul on Perkins. Although he missed the layup, Bosh sunk both free throws to give Miami the 9-2 lead.
The 6-11, 235-pounder turned in a nice defensive play on Kevin Durant shortly after, leaping in the Thunder All-Stars face and preventing an open three-point shot.
Following the Durant miss off the rim, Bosh sprung loose down the right side of the court, side-stepping inside and completing the layup, while drawing another foul. He would hit the free throw to finish off the three-point-play.
Later in the game, he floated an 18-foot beauty of a jumper that nailed down a 35-21 lead with 9:11 left in the half.
Bosh equaled his point total from Game 1 when Ibaka blocked LeBron James five-foot running jumper. Bosh grabbed the rebound then threw down a dunk to push Miamis lead to 46-34.
The next possession, Bosh was key again; intercepting a Thabo Sefolosha inside pass and sending James coast-to-coast for a layup, which made it 48-34 with 2:42 left in the half.
When the buzzer sounded at the half, Bosh had played 19 minutes and 22 seconds, scoring 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting. Where his contributions were being felt the most however, was at the basket where he racked up 10 rebounds through two quarters.
His two-handed slam with just 53.8 seconds remaining in the game gave Miami a 98-91 lead, with the Thunder chipping away. Thats points when his team needed them the most.
The Bosh experiment seemed to work for Miami. Putting him back in the starting line-up gave the Heat a boost early on route to victory. Now its just a matter of consistency and stamina. Its pretty clear that when Bosh contributes, the Heat rolls.