BROOKLYN, NY – During his pregame briefing at the Barclays Center, Erik Spolestra spoke of the Miami Heat by using the phrase “welcome to our team”.
It was a wording he used at least twice to answer questions. As the Heat deal with the aftermath of LeBron James returning to Cleveland, it’s a way to introduce to what the four-time defending Eastern Conference champions look like with without the best player in the game.
It could be a catchy marketing slogan or social media hashtag. In reality it might be what the Heat are about with Chris Bosh being asked to do more besides score, especially when Dwyane Wade does not play.
“Well, welcome to our team this year, and what’s necessary for us to win,” Spoelstra said. “He has to do a lot. And he embraces all that. The challenges that are on his shoulders this year on both ends of the court, he has to bring it.”
And so far Bosh has done that even with a terrible shooting slump that culminated in a 2-for-17 night on Sunday against the Milwaukee Bucks. Before hitting two clutch shots to seal Monday’s 95-83 win that can be easily defined as Miami’s best of the season, Bosh was talked about with reverence as a facilitator.
“He’s been a facilitator for us, the last few years,” Spoelstra said. “The ball has been in his hands. But it’s a requirement for this team, for him to get us into second situations. He has that skill set. He’s a very gifted, skilled player, can do multiple things. And that’s one of the things that’s necessary for our team offensively.”
It’s an accurate statement since his 3.1 assists per game and 4.5 assists per 100 possessions are career highs. Also a career high is his assist percentage of 15.7 and it is a dimension that Bosh is getting acclimated to.
“I’m the guy that sometimes has to create,” Bosh said. “It’s a different look but I have to get used to it and eventually I’ll get a rhythm down. Before it was either shoot it or move it. Getting to those second situations I had to get the ball in the hand of those guys who did the creating and usually I was the beneficiary.”
Those are numbers that could have been achieved with the Houston Rockets but in reality, even as James opted to return home, Miami is home for Bosh with the assistance of $118 million over five years. And with Bosh and Wade remaining from the NBA’s version of a rock group’s world tour, the Heat are talking about figuring it out or the process with an understanding fan base.
That kind of comment is one all too familiar to fans in Brooklyn, who are on their third different process and fourth coach in three seasons or familiar to New York fans who hear daily about figuring out the triangle offense. There’s impatience with both fan bases but not so in Miami, according to Bosh.
“I hope in every NBA arena they understand that,” Bosh said. “When you’re put in a different position, after years and years of training yourself to do a certain, specific thing, I would hope that everybody would have patience.
“But that’s why I appreciate Miami so much. Even through times that are difficult they stick by you. It’s easy to cheer when you’re winning. That’s the easiest part. It’s tough when you’re trying to find it … it’s our home. I know how to get to work. When there’s traffic, I know the shortcuts.”
So far they’ve figured it out six times in 11 games. There was the 5-2 start followed by three straight losses coinciding with Wade sitting out twice and Bosh in a shooting slump.
Game 11 of the post-LeBron era for Miami was one that easily could have been a loss.
Then Bosh did the facilitating with his shooting by hitting the two big shots in the final three minutes and the Heat walked off the court with a win defined by digging in and getting things done even if there was nothing artistic about it.
It was just another night in the process.