Miami Heat

‘Thrill is gone’ as Miami Heat’s Chris Bosh redefines his role

Feeling pressure: Teams are doubling Chris Bosh.
Feeling pressure: Teams are doubling Chris Bosh. AP

Chris Bosh is learning the hard way that his old moves just aren’t good enough anymore.

Back in Toronto, when Bosh was a franchise player for the first time in his career, the 6-10 center used to simply blow past slower defenders for drives to the basket or easily find space for open shots. Those days are gone, and he has learned over the past week that they’re not coming back.

“It’s not like that anymore,” Bosh said Wednesday, a practice day for the Heat. “The thrill is gone.”

Bosh delivered that last line with a touch of laughter in his voice. It was a joke, but he knows the importance of finding a way to adjust offensively to the new defenses teams are throwing his way.

With Dwyane Wade out — and LeBron James long gone — teams are loading up on Bosh, and he has struggled.

After getting off to an impressive start, Bosh’s form has taken a dip over the past four games. He was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week to begin the season, but since losing to the Indiana Pacers last Wednesday, Bosh is shooting 28.3 percent from the field, including just 3 of 14 from three-point range.

He was better in the Heat’s victory against the Brooklyn Nets on Monday, but Bosh acknowledged Wednesday that he’s still not completely comfortable with leading a team on his own.

“I haven’t been in this position in four or five years, so as far as dudes relying on me to lead them and put up some numbers, it’s different,” Bosh said. “Just the volume of touches, the way guys have been playing me, I haven’t seen it in a while.”

His game bottomed out against the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday, when he went 2 of 17 from the field. The Heat lost 91-84.

“I’m doing all my old moves,” Bosh said. “Those old moves, you’ve got to put something else on the old moves. Then it’s a good move. It’s something I’ll have to adjust to.”

Bosh said taking better angles to the basket and giving “double and triple moves” would help. It’s all part of getting older, he said.

“If the fastball drops down to 86 [mph], then you got to get a nice 72-mph change-up,” Bosh said. “Then the fastball seems fast.”

It’s not all about Bosh beating defenders one-on-one, though. In fact, that’s not really what it’s about at all, said Erik Spoelstra. The Heat’s coach wants Bosh to share the basketball, rely on his teammates and be more vocal on the court. That’s exactly what Bosh did against the Nets.

“Chris was outstanding the other night just in terms of his leadership,” Spoelstra said. “He knows that’s the No.1 thing. His voice was the loudest it has been all year, playing through what could have been frustration with foul trouble, but continuing to lead.

“And he was really moving the ball and getting us in second situations. The majority of the ball movement was created off of Chris. And then when we really needed some buckets, he and [Mario Chalmers] were able to create some two-man actions.”

It probably will be up to Bosh and Chalmers to carry the Heat (6-5) again Thursday night against the Los Angeles Clippers. Wade is out again with a hamstring injury and starter Luol Deng is questionable after missing practice with a sore wrist. He sprained it against the Bucks on Sunday and did not play Monday in Brooklyn.

With power forward Josh McRoberts limited by a foot injury, and Danny Granger questionable after making his season debut Monday, the Clippers and coach Doc Rivers will have the luxury of putting extra pressure on Bosh, who said he’s going to have to trust his teammates.

“My body and timing is going to catch up to everything, it’s a little different because I’m a little older, I have to adjust my game,” Bosh said. “They’re putting younger, bigger guys on me. When I was younger and faster and bigger I could go right by them. Now, that’s no longer the case.”

Thursday: Clippers at Heat

When/where: 7:30 p.m., AmericanAirlines Arena.

TV/radio: TNT; WAXY 104.3 FM, 790 AM and 710 AM (Spanish).

Series: Heat leads 32-19.

Of note: Dwyane Wade (hamstring) is out and Luol Deng (wrist) is questionable. Josh McRoberts (foot) was upgraded to probable after missing Monday’s game against Nets, but Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said McRoberts’ minutes would be limited if he returns against the Clippers. Danny Granger played against the Nets but said on Wednesday that he’s not going to be ready for full-time return to action until after New Year’s Day. The Clippers played at Orlando on Wednesday night.

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