While the majority of the attention following Miami’s Game 2 victory will be on LeBron James’ response to cramp-gate (rightfully so, as he went for 35 points and 10 rebounds while shooting 63.6% from the floor and 3 for 3 from deep), the Heat are back in this series with the San Antonio Spurs because of the late-game heroics of one Chris Bosh.
Down one with 1:18 remaining in the game, Bosh hit a three-pointer from the right corner off a drive and dish by LeBron. The Heat went up 95-93 off the make, and extended it to 96-93 with LeBron splitting a pair of free throws with less than a minute remaining. Then, nine seconds from the end of regulation, Bosh capped it off with a dagger drop-off assist to Dwyane Wade on a drive. That basket ended up being the difference, as Manu Ginobili hit a meaningless three-pointer for the Spurs at the buzzer. Game 2 ended as a 98-96 Heat victory.
The Heat now head back to Miami for Games 3 and 4 with a favorable 1-1 split, and an even 50.0% chance of winning the title, according to our algorithms. If Bosh had not hit that three nor made that key assist in the dying seconds, we’d probably be looking at a 2-0 San Antonio lead and an 82.04% chance of a Spurs championship. That’s a 32.04% swing based largely on LeBron and the Heat trusting Bosh to make it happen in the late going.
Remember, It was less than two weeks ago that LeBron passing to Bosh in the corner at the end of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals was seemingly reason enough for a portion of the population to rag on the King for not being clutch when Bosh missed. Those on the other side of the argument - the ones that swore it was the right basketball play - got their validation last night, as Bosh nailed the big shot. And not even the biggest LeBron haters could be heard faulting the decision (not that decision).
The important thing to take away here, regardless of where you stand on LeBron, is that a Bosh corner three has become one of the deadliest shots in the Heat’s arsenal. Let’s take a look.
It’s becoming more and more in fashion for bigs to shoot threes as a way of stretching the floor, pulling opposing frontcourt players away from the basket, and thus opening driving lanes. It’s no longer unusual for a power forward or center to come back from a summer of hard work with a three-point shot added to their repertoire. The thing is, it usually doesn’t happen when that player is turning 30 and in his 11th NBA season.
To be fair, Bosh has always taken the occasional shot from long range, even averaging an attempt per game last season. This year, however, Bosh’s attempts and makes saw a huge spike. It’s obviously something he’s made a conscious effort to implement and his coach, Erik Spoelstra, has clearly given him the green light to fire away.
|First 9 Years||643||66||228||0.4||28.9%|
Last year, Bosh went from a career mark of 0.4 attempts per game to 1.0, but he remained on par with his career three-point percentage in the 28% range. This season alone, he nearly shot as many long balls as he did the first nine seasons of his career combined, and nearly tripled the number he shot last season (which initially looked like a big increase on its own, going from 0.4 to 1.0 attempts per contest).
This season, his average of 2.8 attempts per game and 33.9% success rate were both in the top seven among qualified bigs. That’s impressive enough, but what he’s done in the postseason has been downright nasty.
|First 9 Years||46||9||29||0.6||31.0%|
In just 17 games this postseason, he’s already attempted more threes than he did in his entire postseason career (69 games) coming into these playoffs. During last year’s playoff run, the spike in attempts (0.6 to 1.6) and percentage (31.0% to 40.5%) from his previous career numbers played a big part in the Heat’s second championship. This year, he’s at the point where he's basically earned the right to be called a sharpshooter, and his range might prove to be one of Miami’s biggest keys to a three-peat.
His 29 makes leads the Heat this postseason, and his 43.3% success rate is better than Ray Allen (37.8%), LeBron (40.0%), and, well, everyone on the Heat other than Shane Battier (47.4%), who has taken less than one-third as many attempts as Bosh (19 compared to 67). Just a reminder, Ray Allen is the most prolific three-point shooter of all time, and Bosh is besting him in makes and percentage, having taken seven fewer attempts. Unreal.
Even Deadlier Corners
Bosh’s most effective spot on the court this season, other than directly under the basket, was the left corner. He shot 10 for 21 from that range, and the resulting 47.6% success rate was a full 8.5% better than the league average. He shot 9 for 33 from the right side (27.3%, league average 38.9%) and 55 for 164 above the break (33.5%, league average 35.3%).
Just to break that down, 75.2% of his long-range attempts were above the break (where he was average), 15.1% of his attempts were from the right corner (where he was below average), and only 9.6% of his attempts came from the left corner (where he was well above average). Bosh’s postseason has seen better shot selection and a much better success rate.
Bosh took only 24.8% of his three-point attempts from the two corners this season, but has increased that to 35.8% during the postseason. He is still shooting well above the break (15 of 43 for 34.9%, spot on with the league average), but he's been absolutely deadly in both corners. He’s hit 5 of 7 on the left (71.4%, league average 40.3%) and has vastly improved on the right, going 9 for 17 (52.9%, league average 37.5%).
Does anyone still want to argue against the idea of LeBron dishing to Bosh in the right corner in crunch time?
Didn’t think so.
Bosh's three-point shooting, whether we're ready to believe it or not, has become a big part of the Heat's attack and subsequently their three-peat chances. He only drained one trey in Game 2, but it was arguably the most important shot of the game, as it gave the Heat a lead in the last minute and a half from which they never looked back. No one can fault Tim Duncan for sagging off Bosh to cover LeBron's drive, as Timmy is the Spurs' primary rim protector, but Bosh's range is no longer something you can sag completely off of and not have someone rotate over to cover. If the Spurs - and the NBA in general - don't show more respect for Bosh's range, we could all be in for a few more Heat titles.