Center Chris Bosh’s game is drifting farther and farther from the rim. And LeBron James, for one, isn’t sure this is best for the Miami Heat.
“We need that paint attack from him,” James said Friday.
Bosh’s off-target 3-point attempt with one minute remaining in Miami’s 92-88 loss to San Antonio on Thursday night in Game 1 of the NBA Finals summed up the Heat’s fourth quarter.
Miami’s 22 possessions in that period resulted in 13 missed shots and as many turnovers (5) as field goals. The Heat were outscored 23-16 in the quarter.
Bosh was 1-of-5 in the period, three of those attempts coming from 19 feet or deeper. He misfired on all four of his 3-point attempts in the game and had just five rebounds.
The Heat’s most damaging stretch in the fourth quarter covered about six minutes and saw their three-point lead become a six-point deficit as Miami went 1-of-7 from the floor with four turnovers.
“We had some very empty possessions where we didn’t get to anything,” James said. “We kind of got a little sloppy when we’re usually really good.”
Dwyane Wade has taken it upon himself to keep Bosh’s spirits up lately, visiting Bosh at his home to give him pep talks about his game.
Wade said Friday that Bosh, who at 6-feet-11 and 235 pounds is a natural forward, still is trying to “find his place at his position.”
He began playing center regularly for the Heat about a year ago, during the playoffs.
“Some nights it’s effortless, some nights it’s difficult,” Wade said. “But he’ll figure it out.”
Coach Erik Spoelstra said he was OK with the 3-pointer — which came with the Heat trailing by four and 18 seconds remaining on the shot clock — despite 3-point specialists Mike Miller and Ray Allen being on the floor as well as James.
“We’re not going to overreact to those misses,” Spoelstra said. “He was wide-open, he has been making shots. He’s hit some big ones already.”
But not lately.
Bosh missed 26 of his last 34 shots in the conference finals against Indiana, a series in which Bosh abandoned his post … literally.
Of his 69 shots in the series, just 26 came from the paint, according to NBA.com. He converted just 42.3 percent (11-of-26) of those shots.
In Thursday’s Game 1, Bosh was 6-of-16 from the floor, but just 1-of-4 in the paint.
Bosh is 15-of-35 on 3s in the playoffs, but the farther he sets up from the rim, the less of an impact he has on the boards.
Bosh was Miami’s second-leading rebounder during the regular season with 6.8 per game. He averaged just 4.3 in the Pacers series with five offensive rebounds. He continued the trend with one offensive rebound among his five total in 35 minutes of Game 1 against the Spurs.
Bosh appeared unfazed Friday, saying he’s still trying to “get into the flow” on his 3-point shooting.
“I’ll just continue to shoot the ball,” he said. “They can give it to me, I’ll take it.
“I’ll take any open shot. I just missed a couple. I think one was a bad shot that I probably could have had a better option. If they want to leave me open, that’s cool with me.”
The Spurs were careful not to provide any bulletin-board material Friday that could motivate Bosh. Coach Gregg Popovich dismissed Bosh’s misses, saying he had some open shots he simply didn’t make. Spurs point guard Tony Parker said the Spurs didn’t leave Bosh open on purpose.
But center Tiago Splitter, while acknowledging that the Spurs were “lucky” Bosh missed, was asked if he wants Bosh to keep taking 3-pointers.
“Of course,” Splitter said.
For James, it’s a matter of Bosh wanting “to accept the challenge” of playing in the post and hoping that starts in Sunday’s Game 2 in Miami.
“It won’t be difficult,” James said. “Wherever CB demands the ball in the post, we’ll give it to him.”