Chris Bosh couldn’t get up from his hospital bed a few weeks ago. On Wednesday, he couldn’t stay seated on the Heat’s bench.
On one of the Heat’s most meaningful nights of the season, Bosh was one of his team’s most active sideline participants. At different times throughout the game, Bosh played the role of bench leader, coach and cheerleader. A glance over at the Heat bench at any given time during the team’s 108-104 victory against the Trail Blazers was a glimpse into just how passionately Bosh has been supporting his teammates over the last week despite recovering from a blood clot in his lung.
There was Bosh demonstrating a spin move for assistant coach Keith Smart during a third-quarter timeout. Minutes later, Bosh rushed off the bench during another brief stoppage to correct Michael Beasley’s defensive posture. And then, of course, Bosh couldn’t contain himself during Dwyane Wade’s mesmerizing fourth quarter.
Bosh was off the bench and halfway down the court after Wade’s impossible floater to tie the score with 41 seconds to play, and again when Wade knocked down that 15-foot fadeaway jumper to give the Heat the lead with 13.6 seconds left.
“For me, it just gives me joy to see him over there, and me and him have a lot of laughs and conversations throughout the game,” Wade said. “Just knowing everything that happened and how scared we were, seeing him out there and celebrating and cheering with us, that gives you something extra.”
Wade has been playing with a little something extra this week, scoring 32 points in back-to-back games. He was 13 of 18 from the field on Monday in the Heat’s victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers, and he shot 13 of 26 against the Trail Blazers.
The back-to-back victories — arguably the most important of the season — moved the Heat (31-36) to seventh in the Eastern Conference standings on Wednesday night. The win against Portland coincided with losses by the Bucks, Pacers, Celtics and Nets. Miami now trails Milwaukee by just two games in the loss column for sixth in the East, and plays the Denver Nuggets on Friday at AmericanAirlines Arena.
That’s a stunning reversal, considering the Heat was 10th only a few days ago.
After going through so much this season, winning important games at home with Bosh on the bench made the moments all the more special for Wade, coach Erik Spoelstra and co-captain Udonis Haslem.
“I can’t say enough about C.B. and his influence right now for a guy who could be feeling sorry for himself, but he doesn’t,” Spoelstra said. “And I think what it’s doing is showing these guys when you wear that Heat jersey that it’s still important. He can’t play this year, and it still means something for this organization to get into the playoffs, and you can see it. You can see the passion, and how much he cares that we get in. The other guys see that, and it’s hard not to respond to that.”
Demonstrative as ever, Bosh’s big smiles and swinging arms have been valued additions to the Heat’s bench since the All-Star power forward was cleared by doctors to attend games. Bosh was diagnosed with a blood clot in his lung during the All-Star break, and spent eight days in the hospital. He’s not traveling with the team, but his presence during home games helped spark some momentum this week.
With Bosh on the bench for the Heat’s race for the playoffs, the Heat has won four of its past five games at home. Bosh has been a valuable instructor with Haslem now starting at power forward, and Bosh helped Hassan Whiteside remain focused on the bench during the second half Tuesday. Whiteside appeared distracted at the end of the third quarter, but he shook off a few tough breaks and responded with a game-changing defensive effort in the fourth quarter. He finished with six blocks, and his rebounds and plays in the paint were key in the fourth quarter.
“He can still help this group even if you’re not on this court sweating with guys and competing, and I think that’s a great message to our entire team,” Spoelstra said. “You might not be on the court, but you can still help us win. Or you might not be the one scoring down the stretch, but you can help us win. You might not be the one getting the play calls or the touches, but you can still help us win.
“It still takes 15 strong to get the job done, and C.B. is the epitome of that.”
NUGGETS AT HEAT
When, where: 7:30 p.m., AmericanAirlines Arena
TV, radio: Sun Sports; 104.3 FM, 790 AM, WAQI 710 AM ( Spanish).
Series: Heat leads 28-27.
Of note: Chris Bosh (blood clot) and Josh McRoberts (right meniscus surgery) are out for the Heat. Dwyane Wade has scored at least 25 points in seven consecutive games. Goran Dragic is shooting 54.7 percent in March while averaging 19.3 points and 6.0 assists. It’s the second night of a back-to-back for the Nuggets.