Chris Bosh could have gone to the Houston Rockets this offseason to build a title contender. Instead, he chose to stick around in Miami and rebuild a roster.
With the regular season a week away, that roster is still taking shape, but the form is coming into focus. And this much is known about the Heat three weeks into the preseason: Bosh can still be a leading man in the NBA.
Meanwhile, Dwyane Wade showed signs of his vintage self Tuesday night, scoring a game-high 26 points as the Heat won its third consecutive preseason game and first at AmericanAirlines Arena, 90-85 over the Houston Rockets.
The game served as the Heat’s dress rehearsal for next Wednesday’s season-opener against the Washington Wizards.
Final conclusion: The Heat will begin the season a few garments shy of a fully functioning wardrobe, but at least the suit appears to fit.
Bosh has been the Heat’s most consistent player this preseason, and that’s the most the team could ask for considering the roster upheaval. It hasn’t taken Bosh long to figure out his role. He’s the Heat’s marquee player, and has played like it. Bosh scored 22 points against the Rockets, which recruited the Heat’s big man this offseason to play alongside Dwight Howard in the Houston frontcourt.
Bosh had different plans, though, and went 7 of 12 from the field, 2 of 4 from three-point range and 6 of 9 from the free-throw line to go along with six rebounds against his offseason suitors.
Wade had his best game of the preseason, scoring 17 of his 26 points in the first half. He was 11 of 17 from the field and 3 of 3 from the free-throw line.
Both Bosh and Wade logged heavy fourth-quarter minutes or the first time this preseason in preparation for the start of the season. The Heat finishes its preseason on Friday in Memphis, but Bosh and Wade will likely watch most of the game from the bench.
“I knew I was going to come out and be aggressive,” Wade said. “I usually get to around game six, seven or eight and try to be aggressive and get into the flow. It was good tonight playing in the fourth quarter and trying to get those fourth-quarter legs.”
Wade consistently attacked the rim during the game’s first two periods, and even attempted a driving dunk through the lane. The missed shot caromed high off the back of the rim, but the effort offered a bit of relief that the Heat’s star guard is completely healthy entering the season. Wade appeared a step or two slow in a recent road trip to Kansas City and San Antonio.
Wade’s activity in the fourth quarter also was encouraging. His three-pointer gave the Heat an 82-79 lead with 5:24 left in the game. Wade then assisted newcomer Shawne Williams on a three-pointer to double that lead on the Heat’s next possession.
Wade finished off the Rockets with a pair of free throws in the final minute.
“The guys that started and played those minutes down the stretch felt it in their legs and that’s what I wanted,” Spoelstra said.
Of course, there are plenty of questions and concerns dotting the court for the Heat, which likely will begin this regular season with three new starters from last year’s Eastern Conference championship team.
Norris Cole started at point guard in place of Mario Chalmers for the sixth consecutive game, Luol Deng is taking the place of LeBron James at small forward and the Heat’s power-forward position is a work in progress. Williams started at the four against Houston, and he could get the call for the regular-season opener, but the position will ultimately be filled by another new face, Josh McRoberts.
Chalmers had 13 points off the bench and gave the Heat a 70-67 lead on a prayer with 19 seconds in the third quarter. His step back, banked-in three-pointer gave him nine points for the period. The Heat outscored the Rockets 29-15 in the third quarter.
McRoberts, who had surgery on his left great toe in the offseason, hasn’t played this preseason, and his absence has prevented the Heat from developing any kind of permanent rhythm. The projection for McRoberts is something similar to Bosh’s position last season, and lacking that mortar the Heat hasn’t been able to build anything solid.
“It’s getting a little bit more clear,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Every team is going through some kind of decision making. We won’t fully be able to make some of these decisions without Josh out here, but that’s life in the NBA.
“That’s my job to figure it out next week.”
Howard and James Harden scored 19 points each for the Rockets, but the team shot 39.5 percent from the field.