The Heat’s best shooter isn’t shooting enough.
Most nights, it’s not a problem. After all, Chris Bosh might be the team’s most reliable offensive option, but he’s on a team with Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, two of the best scorers in the NBA.
But then there are times like Sunday and the Heat’s 100-98 loss to the Celtics. In a game that Heat coach Erik Spoelstra called one of his team’s most inefficient of the season, Bosh attempted just three shots in the second half and overtime periods. It was as if James, Wade and Ray Allen completely forgot that Bosh, whose 54.3 percent field-goal shooting leads the Heat, was on the floor.
“He’s one of our best players, one of our best shooters. …Three shots is definitely not enough for him,” James said. “We’ve got to do a better job of just trying to find him.”
Bosh’s statistics against the Celtics are just a small sample size of a larger trend. The Heat’s power forward, an eight-time All-Star selection, doesn’t get enough looks. Of course, this isn’t a new problem. Bosh has sacrificed shots for James and Wade since 2010. This season, Bosh is averaging 12.2 shot attempts per game. It’s the second-lowest average of his career next to his rookie season despite the fact that he’s shooting better than ever.
But three shots in his final 27 minutes of a close game? Spoelstra said the stagnation of the Heat’s offense against the Celtics led to Bosh being ignored.
“That usually happens as a residual of execution and ball movement,” Spoelstra said. “If it’s a zero-pass, one-pass shot, a lot of guys aren’t getting those opportunities. And we weren’t really forcing enough triggers for the ball to end up finding its way to Chris, where he can take advantage.”
But that wasn’t the case at the beginning of the game. Bosh was 5 of 6 in the first quarter. He was so zeroed in that his shots never touch the rim — five swishes and, oddly enough, an air-ball.
But James and the Heat’s offense went away from Bosh in the second half. He was 1 of 2 from the field in the third quarter and then didn’t attempt another shot until 2:53 remained in the second overtime. His running dunk on an assist by James tied the score at 95.
James attempted 31 shots, a season high by five, and Wade was 6 of 20. But it’s hard to pin the Heat’s stunted offense against the Celtics on James and Wade. They each had seven assists, after all.
Allen, in his first game in Boston since signing with the Heat, was 7of 17 from the field (and 2 of 8 from three-point range) in 38 minutes without an assist.
“Offensively, that was one of the more inefficient games that we’ve had in a long time, and on the road you have to be able to execute and have patience to get good shots,” Spoelstra said. “We took a lot of zero-pass, one-pass shots for long twos, pull-up twos, spot-up twos, which is the most inefficient shot in the game.
“That’s not our game. We’ll take them when we get them in rhythm.”
Bosh’s offensive production fell off as minutes for starting point guard Mario Chalmers dried up, but James took responsibility for Bosh’s reduced offensive role in the second half.
“It’s tough,” James said. “I know I wouldn’t feel much of a threat offensively if I only got three looks in a second half and overtime, so I know it’s tough, so we’ve got to be more conscious about that and try to get him some looks. Or don’t even try. Just make it happen.”
Bosh has taken a lot of flack over the past month for his low rebounding numbers but it wasn’t inactivity (or taking plays off) that led to his low shot total. Defensively, Bosh had one of his best games. He finished with 16 rebounds.
On Wednesday, Bosh will face another challenging assignment when he squares off against Brooklyn center Brook Lopez. The Nets’ big man recently was snubbed by coaches for a spot on the East All-Star team, but there is a chance Lopez could be added in place of injured Celtics guard Rajon Rondo. In other words, expect a motivated effort from Lopez.
“He’s having a great year,” Bosh said. “They have really turned it around. It was looking shaky for a minute, but the kept playing basketball and he’s been a huge. Everybody knows that he’s a good basketball player and he’s a big body down there and he has a lot of skill.”