Tonight’s game against the Indiana Pacers has been one that both Miami Heat fans and players have circled on their calendar since the release of the 2013-14 schedule. This heavyweight bout is arguably one of the four most significant games the Heat will play this season because the Pacers are the only team in the Eastern Conference that has a legitimate chance of knocking the defending champs out of the playoffs.
Miami already knows it will get steady contributions from both LeBron James and a rested Dwyane Wade, but it is hard to determine who will shine tonight in the Bankers Life Fieldhouse arena in Indiana outside of those two.
The one player who needs to be the X-factor for the Heat tonight is none other than Chris Bosh. Because the Heat have a small frontcourt, the Pacers will be looking to establish dominance in the paint early and often. Bosh is one of many players that require attention when he has the ball in his hands, but what makes his presence on the court so valuable is what he does to other defenders.
With the bulk of Bosh’s shots coming from the field, the Pacers’ frontcourt will be forced to step outside the paint and guard Bosh — at least that’s how the Heat see it. This will hopefully result in more points in the paint and even the scales in terms of the size advantage.
It will be up to Bosh to be aggressive right at tipoff, and not allow the Pacers frontcourt of Roy Hibbert and David West to dictate where he goes on the floor. The Pacers’ defense is one of the best in the league, so Bosh needs to get his shot going in early to develop a rhythm outside of the paint, forcing the Pacers to reevaluate their defensive game plan in terms of covering him.
Bosh’s play tonight will dictate whether the Heat walk away with a 17th on the season, or a crushing defeat to their biggest Eastern Conference foe. Bosh is without a doubt the Heat’s biggest X-factor tonight.