Chris Bosh is the lesser of the big three. That’s just life. But if a six time All-Star is your third best player, then I guess the Miami Heat can handle a night without both LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. They certainly looked capable of handling the load, beating the Atlanta Hawks in a triple overtime game 116-109.
Bosh? Had his best game of the season, maybe his best in Heat uniform. He played 47 minutes, scored 33 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. Need more? He hit the game tying 3 pointer to send the game into its first overtime. But he didn’t do it alone. Shane Battier clocked a team high 49 minutes. Mario Chalmers had the best game of his career, scoring 29 points and dishing out 8 assists. Udonis Haslem added 14 points off the bench. Terrel Harris, a guard, grabbed 14 rebounds.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, the Miami Heat aren’t the same team without Wade and James, have no fear. Their ability to create points off turnovers is limited, with no one zooming up and down the court, faster than any other team in the league. But the guys make up for it with aggression. Mario Chalmers hasn’t looked this determined since his days in Kansas. Suddenly, the responsibility elevated his game.
The bench? The Heat’s Achilles heel did lose in the +/- game, but having a fit Udonis Haslem this season and the addition of Norris Cole and Terrel Harris, who played for 44 minutes, just give the Heat’s starters and staff a lot more confidence in the guys coming off the bench.
It was great seeing Bosh carry the Heat on his back. He’s taken a lot of criticism since coming over from Toronto. He can’t help it from being the third best player on the team, with two future hall of fame players playing alongside him. He can’t create points and be a play-maker like those two. But he won games and led a team, less talented with a lower aspiration level, before he tripped down to Miami.
The Hawks have certainly played their usual part after a big win. They are the only team to beat the Heat this season, but then looked bad against the Chicago Bulls and missed out on an opportunity to beat the Miami Heat for a second time but blew it in the third overtime, without scoring a single point. The bench players were the ones who kept the Hawks in contention. Tracy McGrady, in somewhat of a comeback season, scored 14 points. Willie Green and Ivan Johnson scored in double figures as well.
But this was Bosh’s night, the substitutes night. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade will be back pretty soon, maybe even on Saturday against the New Jersey Nets. They’ll be hogging the spotlight, most of the time deservedly, soon enough.