Just five active players have more than two seasons averaging 22 points and eight rebounds per game. Of those five, four have received at least one MVP vote in the last three years, and the one who hasn’t is the youngest.
Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan and Amar’e Stoudemire have been recognized among the game’s top players, but Chris Bosh, still vibrant enough to remain a difference maker, has faded from the spotlight.
Playing third fiddle to LeBron James and Dwyane Wade has masked Bosh’s true ability. Even as Erik Spoelstra frequently calls him the Heat’s most-important player, it comes across as a way to placate a star who needs reassurance in the face of a lesser role.
Much more than LeBron and Wade, Bosh has subdued his game to server a great team good. His perimeter shooting greatly aids Miami’s floor-spacing, and he does many of the little things expected of a big man who plays with two ball-dominating superstar bigs.
But Bosh is rarely seen as a star anymore.
That will change after his 20-point and 13-rebound performance in Game 4 of the NBA Finals helped the Heat beat the Spurs, 109-93.
It’s Bosh’s first 20-point game in more than a month and his first game with as many rebounds in just as long. Also consider his two steals and two blocks, and these are numbers he’d posted just five times in career, only once with Miami and never before in the playoffs.
Bosh’s stat line should draw attention to him, which in turn, should draw attention his defense, which was very good tonight. With Mike Miller starting for Udonis Haslem, the Heat absolutely needed it.
Entering the game,Tim Duncan shot 6-for-23 (26.1 percent) with Haslem on the court and 10-for-20 (50 percent) with Haslem on the bench. Unsurprisingly, the Spurs’ offensive rating while Duncan plays changed similarly, dropping from 117.8 with Haslem on the bench to 102.3 with Haslem on the court.
In other words, reducing Haslem’s role and tasking Bosh with guarding Duncan more was a big risk. Bosh held his own. Duncan scored a quiet 20 points, but he had just five rebounds and also turned the ball over three times.
It’s the type of two-way performance Bosh hasn’t had in quite some time, and it should serve as a reminder to those who’d forgotten: Chris Bosh is still very good.