First round in the bag, the Heat’s players and coaches can now join the rest of the NBA’s basketball fans and enjoy a riveting conclusion to seven first-round playoff series across the country.
Of the eight first-round matchups, only the series between the Heat and Bobcats ended in four games. At the earliest, the Heat’s second-round series won’t begin until Sunday. That leaves the defending back-to-back champions with plenty of time to rest, recover and — for a few days at least — watch postseason basketball like the rest of us.
The Heat will play the winner of the first-round series between the Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn Nets, and that means Chris Bosh, who began his career in Toronto, has been keenly interested in the series.
The series is tied 2-2 with Game 5 on Wednesday in Toronto.
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“They’re in the wheelhouse right now,” Bosh said of the Raptors. “They’ve got two games at home in a best-of-3 series, but, with that said, there are a bunch of savvy veterans out there in Brooklyn, and they have yet to play their best basketball.
“With their backs against the wall, we’ll see how they react. They’re going to have to win a game in Toronto. Game 5 will be a huge one, so we’ll be in front of the TV watching and just waiting.”
Bosh’s game has evolved dramatically since he played in Toronto. After the Heat’s first four games of the playoffs, the Raptors’ former power forward is now the Heat’s most consistent three-point shooter. He went 9-of-13 shooting from three-point range against the Bobcats, and is tops among postseason shooters with a 69.2 field-goal percentage from outside.
Does he feel like the best three-point shooter in the NBA playoffs?
“Nah, man,” Bosh said. “I don’t come off screens or anything. If my feet are set, and I’m open, I expect to make it. I practice that shot.
“So, if that makes me a three-point shooter, then whatever. I’m open, but I prefer they don’t leave me. That way my guys can just get in the paint all day and make plays.”
Before Monday’s Game 4, Bosh was on the court working with Ray Allen and Heat assistant coach David Fizdale on backpedaling to the corner, catching passes and shooting three-pointers. Chances are good that Bosh will be working on that drill plenty this week. The Heat took the day off on Tuesday, but is scheduled to practice on Wednesday at AmericanAirlines Arena.
“We’ve never had this much time off before, so our rhythm and timing is a little off, and that’s a challenge that Coach and everybody is going to have — with how he’s managing the time, how we’re going to manage ourselves, and how we can make sure we do a good job and not get out of shape or anything like that,” Bosh said. “But we’ve been here before. We learned some lessons from last year. We’ll handle it better this year.”
The Heat swept the Milwaukee Bucks in the first-round of the 2013 playoffs only to fall into a quick 0-1 hole against the Chicago Bulls in the second round.
The Heat swept the Charlotte Bobcats with ease, but the team was well aware on Monday that plenty needs improvement before more difficult matchups.
“It’s a process,” said LeBron James, who averaged 30 points, eight rebounds and six assists in the Heat’s first-round series. “I think this was step one for us. I believe this is a great direction we’re going in right now. In four games we played championship-level basketball and we got testedand the way we responded was a championship-type attitude.
“We have to continue to get better. We can’t play how we played in this round in the next round. We look forward to our next opponent.”