Chris Bosh has found his comfort zone.
He’s in the playoffs. The Raptors? Not so much.
“A lot of people will downplay what we did,” Bosh said of leaving Toronto to join the Miami beach party with LeBron James and Dwayne Wade. “But in our first year together, we got the No. 2 seed in the East and that’s important ... It shows why I made the decision I made.”
Even he admits the road from being the big wheel in Toronto to being part of the furniture with the Heat had too many unexpected detours through Oopsville.
Instead of running away with the East title, they will finish behind Chicago. Nobody saw them getting thrown under that bus. They were fed humble pie by the Celtics on national TV on opening night. There have been times when the Big Three played like they didn’t know they were on the same team.
“We did have an up-and-down year. Every loss was magnified. We had tons of big games. We had lots of teams up and ready to play us and sometimes we were ready for it; sometimes we weren’t,” Bosh said as the Heat prepared for tonight’s regular-season finale against the Raptors, when he once again expects to be booed. But then, feeling the heat has become synonymous with wearing a Miami jersey.
“It’s been a learning experience ... You have to (develop) that thick skin to be able to compete for a championship because it’s going to be like that in the playoffs.”
It was certainly like that during the season.
In LeBron’s return to Cleveland in December, fans peppered him with obscene chants and booed every time he appeared on the giant TV screen. They held signs that read, “Quitness,” a reference to his playoff failure against Boston last season. There were five guys wearing a single letter each on T-shirts that spelled: LeBum.
The Heat won 118-90. James had a season-high 38 points. It was a lesson in resilience learned.
A disappointing loss to open the season in Boston was followed by speculation coach Erik Spoelstra was having difficulties keeping his three superstars happy and productive. When Bosh returned to Toronto the malevolence in the building was palpable. Again, the Heat won; Bosh had 25 points and he believes the turmoil and tumult will now prove valuable. A lesson in patience.
“This year has taught us how to prepare for that stuff. (In the playoffs) one minute is going to be great and you’re going to win it all, the next you lose one game and it’s all coming down; it’s O-O-O-Over! You’re don-n-n-ne. When that happens we can stay calm.
“We had to come together under the microscope. That’s been the best thing for us.”
Rumours persist the Heat are looking to trade Bosh for a point guard eventually. But after a slow start, he has averaged 18.7 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 36.3 minutes per game. Those numbers are just slightly off his career numbers but both he and the club are starting to look more like juggernaut than flubbernaught.
Perhaps more than James or Wade, it is Bosh who has had to change his game. ”They still handle the ball, they still make decisions, make plays. It was kind of different for me because I (played) in the post more. Now I set more screens, I’m rolling to the basket more; I get the ball but it’s in different positions.”
They’ve won eight of the last 10 games, including a convincing 100-77 back-off-the-mat decision Sunday against Boston.
“We had to modify our roles. Shots were going to go down. Our production might go down a bit because of who’s on the team. But we all had to get used to it; get used to our roles; get used to everything changing,” Bosh said. “Sometimes change takes a while. Even when you accept it. you have to learn how to master it.”