The “Big Three” has been essentially a solo act for the Miami Heat through six games of the Eastern Conference Finals, with LeBron James leading the way while Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have battled injuries and struggled to find their way offensively. For Miami to have their best chance to beat the Indiana Pacers in Game 7 on Monday night and earn a third straight trip to the NBA Finals, at least one of the other two stars has to make a notable contribution.
Bosh averaged 16.3 points per game over the first three games against the Pacers, while making over 51 percent of his shots (18-for-35; 4-for-9 on three-pointers) from the floor. But he injured his right ankle in Game 4, aggravated the injury early in Game 5, and it’s been all downhill from there. Over the last three games Bosh is averaging just 6.3 points and 4.0 rebounds per game, while making just five of 21 shots from the floor combined.
Bosh averaged 17.0 points per game in three regular season games against Indiana this year, including a 24-point game on March 10, but he failed to make much of a mark elsewhere on the stat sheet with averages of just 3.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. That has held true so far in this playoff series as well, with Bosh averaging 3.7 rebounds and less than one assist per game in the six contests.
Bosh acknowledged that his rhythm is off after a particularly dismal Game 6 (1-for-8 from the floor, five points, four rebounds and three turnovers), and the Pacers’ defense can be given some credit for neutralizing him apart from his ankle issue. The Heat have also had no answer for Pacers center Roy Hibbert to this point in the series, as he is averaging 22.8 points and 10.8 rebounds per game with four double-doubles, and Bosh has been among the biggest reasons why.
James will still be the main cog for the Heat in Game 7, but I think Bosh will be the most important player for either team during Monday night’s game. If his ankle continues to hamper his ability to play effectively and efficiently on both ends of the floor, Miami will be ripe for an upset at home. But if Bosh is able to re-assert himself offensively, and perhaps get Hibbert into foul trouble, the balance of momentum could shift dramatically to the Heat early in the game and set them up for a showdown with the San Antonio Spurs.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.