It takes a LeBron James injury to remind everyone of how good the Miami Heat actually are. Not just Chris Bosh putting on a show and possibly his best game since joining the team which includes hitting a game winning 3-pointer, but also winning on the road against the Portland Trail Blazers, one of the best teams in the NBA until now.
The Heat might have been worried going into Portland with LeBron James sitting on the sidelines and the prospect of losing a second game in a row, but the return of Dwyane Wade and of Chris Bosh simply pulling out his best performance since joining the team, scoring 37 points and adding 10 rebounds made everything a bit more calm for the champions.
Things didn’t look exactly calm, but actually festive with 0.5 seconds left. Dwyane Wade drove to the basket, and LaMarcus Aldridge left the red hot Bosh wide open beyond the 3-point line. The Miami Heat, down by two points, were about to run a play in order to tie the game, but Bosh said he wanted to shoot the three for the winner, going 2-for-2 up until that moment. The Blazers took the bait, and Bosh knocked down a 3-pointer to win the game 108-107.
There wasn’t a lot of defense to a game that was always going to be about trading scores instead of getting stops. Wesley Matthews scored 23 points and LaMarcus Aldridge had 22. Damian Lillard struggled against Mario Chalmers, while Nicolas Batum didn’t take advantage of not having LeBron James guarding him, finishing with only 2-of-6 from the field, scoring 11 points and adding 9 assists.
Dwyane Wade was having an off shooting night (8-of-19) after resting against the Kings. Ray Allen was back as well, scoring 9 points on a rough 4-of-11 night from the field. The Heat didn’t need that much help from the bench with Michael Beasley doing well in the lineup (12 points, 6 rebounds), and obviously Bosh putting on quite the performance on both ends of the floor, showing once again to anyone who doubts his ability to still play at an All-Star level what a great asset he is.
My call at the end of the game was much more conservative. I drew something up to get him on the move and he said, `No, I want it for the 3.’ So he overruled it and became a prophet. He was terrific tonight, a true two-way player. He took the challenge for the majority of his minutes on one of the premier players in this league and then had to shoulder a big-time offensive load. That takes incredible stamina but also the skill set that he put on display tonight on both ends of the court.
This is the kind of win that makes people think that despite not being on top of the conference right now, the Miami Heat are still the best team in the league and the number one contender to win the championship, which means a three-peat in their case. LeBron James was celebrating with Bosh on the sidelines not just because of the clutch shot, but probably also because he knows the level of talent that’s there to back him up.