Above all else, Chris Bosh approaches his craft like a professional. So when Heat coach Erik Spoelstra subtly criticizes the Heat’s starting center by praising him for jumping more, Bosh takes it to heart.
“I take constructive criticism,” Bosh said. “I listen to it. If I’m not [jumping], then I’ll make a better effort. If I can help out by doing that, then I’ll do it.”
For about two weeks, Spoelstra has hinted publicly that he would like to see Bosh more active on the defensive end. On Sunday against the Wizards, Bosh delivered. He had nine rebounds and a season-high four blocks in 32 minutes in the Heat’s 99-71 victory. He also had 17 points in the game.
“I just like to see him get off the floor,” Spoelstra said. “I think he had more jumps in this game than [he has] had in awhile. He was active on every contest. He had four blocks, but he probably had seven or eight more contests where he altered the shot.
“On the rebounds, even the ones he wasn’t getting, he was getting off the floor. So he was either tipping it, near it or in the vicinity of it. All those things, it felt like he was a 7-foot player, which he is with his wingspan.”
Bosh’s effort, along with 12 rebounds by Udonis Haslem, highlighted a masterfully dominant night for the Heat (23-9), which, before Sunday, had been outrebounded in four of its past five games. The Heat outrebounded Washington 50-39 and held the Wizards to 35.8 percent shooting from the field.
Spoelstra said Saturday that it would take career years in rebounding by some of his players to offset the Heat’s lack of size inside. Bosh’s career high in rebounding per 36 minutes is 10.8, according to basketball-reference.com. Those numbers came during 2009-2010 season, Bosh’s final year in Toronto. This season, Bosh is averaging 8.2 rebounds per 36 minutes.
The recent dissection of his numbers has annoyed Bosh ever so slightly. After Sunday’s victory, Bosh made light of the statistics, taking a playful jab at the attention it has received.
For the time, Bosh said he is going to count his rebounds “so everyone will get off my back.
“So, hey, it was nine today,” Bosh said with a smile. “That’s a start. And I got to get nine the next game. Maybe even 10. … I’m not a numbers guy, but just for the sake of it, I will be for a little while and just count them.”
No one inside the Heat’s locker room has questioned Bosh’s ability or his value to the team. After all, he’s leading the team in field-goal percentage (.549), his midrange jumper is all but automatic and he is arguably the best center in the Eastern Conference.
For Spoelstra, the rebounding numbers are simply a reflection of Bosh’s activity on the defensive side of the ball.
There is room for improvement. Simply put, Bosh could jump more.
“It’s an effort thing,” Spoelstra said. “All of these plays, getting on the floor for a loose ball, making a cut harder, second and third efforts, all these things you can’t take for granted.
“Effort plays, if they were that easy, everybody would do it. Hustle is a talent. Effort is a talent. Doing things with an engine with a motor is a talent. Those are things that you have to continue to work on to build that habit.”
Tuesday’s game at Indiana, the beginning of a six-game road trip, will be a challenge for not only Bosh but also the Heat as a team. The Pacers are ranked third in the NBA in rebounding (45.97 per game.)
“We’re going to see where we’re at,” Bosh said. “Road trips are always a test. Good quality opponents like we’re about to have, it’s a test to see how we’re going to respond to adversity…and what we’re going to do to get the job done.
“Every game is going to be different. There are going to be a lot of high emotions, but it’s all about staying steady, playing the game and win or loss come back the next game and prepare correctly.”
HEAT CUTS HARRELLSON
The Heat cut center Josh Harrellson, who appeared in only four games, and on Tuesday will work out veteran center Chris "Birdman" Anderson, who averaged 5.2 points and 4.6 rebounds for Denver for last season. Players with non-guaranteed contracts must be paid for the remainder of the season if they are on rosters past Jan. 10. By cutting Terrel Harris and Harrellson in the past few days, the Heat avoided having to pay them for the entire season. Miami's roster stands at 13, two under the league maximum.