OKLAHOMA CITY — Will Chris Bosh start tonight? Sure sounds that way.
“The way we use Chris might be a little different, like the way we used him in the regular season,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said this morning at the Heat’s shootaround. “I think he’s gotten his feet wet enough and we’ll need him to be a little bit more of who he was.”
Heading into Game 2 of the NBA Finals tonight, the Miami Heat are in the precarious position of falling behind 2-0 to the deep and explosive Oklahoma City Thunder.
Spoelstra is well aware that the series could swing in Miami’s favor by stealing Game 2 and heading back to South Beach with momentum. And for that to happen, the Heat might need Bosh to be on the court from the outset.
The addition of Bosh to the starting lineup could mean that he will play more than the 34 minutes he logged in Game 1.
“He doesn’t have to play outside of he is,” continued Spoelstra. “He doesn’t have to score 30. He doesn’t have to get 25 field- goal attempts. We need him to be aggressive, offensive-minded, to facilitate offense for us – all of the things that have made him the most important player for us for two years.”
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade will be counting on their star forward in a big way tonight: If he can knock down the majority of his perimeter jumpers, it will cause the Thunder to think twice before leaving the 6-11 southpaw open on the perimeter. As a result, James and Wade could have both more and cleaner lanes to the rim.
Listening to Spoelstra, it’s clear that the most crucial aspect of this game (and the rest of the series) will be dictating tempo by playing Miami Heat basketball and causing the Thunder to adjust to their game.
Over and over again, Spoelstra made notice of the Heat playing to their “identity,” in order to swing the pendulum back into Miami’s favor.
“We have to be committed to those big muscle, tough, athletic areas that we did not dominate,” explained Spoelstra, referencing Game 1. “That’s been our identity all year long. Good, bad, better or worse, we’re an attacking team at both ends and that’s the way we have to be. Even against a team that is aggressive as well, we still have to play to our identity and dictate the will of the game.”
It seems as though Spoelstra is indirectly challenging the Thunder to play an uptempo brand of basketball, and with the Thunder’s depth and ability to thrive in transition (OKC outscored Miami 24-4 on the break in Game 1) this could be a dangerous proposition on the road in the hostile environment known as “Loud City.”
“I’ll give it tonight, but probably what you’ll see more than anything is a little bit deeper of a rotation. The main guys will be playing quite a bit of minutes,” Spoelstra said. “You never want to be behind, but your experiences make you who you are. We’ve had to go through some tough times, so we think it’s built a resiliency and a resourcefulness. We can get better as the series goes on. We can go through some tough times and figure it out. That’s the essence of playoff basketball – you get pushed to your limits and you ultimately have to find a way. Our focus is on getting tonight because we know that this thing can swing very quickly. There are consequences of going the other way with a win for us tonight.
“We have to be committed to those big muscle, muscular, tough areas that we did not dominate. That’s been our identity all year long. Good, bad, better or worse, we’re an attacking team at both ends and that’s the way we have to be. Even against a team that is aggressive as well, we still have to play to our identity and dictate the will of the game,” Spoelstra said.