Why did LeBron James attempt an ill-advised 3-pointer at the end of the game instead of running an actual play? Why did Dwyane Wade go to help a driving Derrick Rose down the lane and leave Luol Deng wide open for the corner trey? Those may have been fleeting moments that could be questioned but the disastrous play of Chris Bosh was the difference here in a historic performance that was one of the worst shooting games of an NBA player in modern times. In a tight game like this where it's easy to nitpick over a play here or a basket there, just an average game from Bosh could have been enough to put away the fears that the Heat can't beat elite teams.
Yes, the Heat are now 0-5 against the Bulls and the Boston Celtics this season. Of course it's cause for concern because these are the teams they will face in the playoffs. The Heat have built their record piling on wins against lesser foes. What's more worrisome though? The Heat's record against elite teams or that the elite teams have been beat by the worse teams in the league. Just the night before the Bulls had lost in Toronto while the Los Angeles Lakers and the Celtics have both lost in Cleveland against one of the weakest teams in recent memory.
All the Heat's high-profile losses have come in close games which begs the question as to why Spoelstra can't get his team over the hump in these types of games and why LeBron and Wade can't put the team on their backs for all 48 minutes and not the first 45. For all the talk of discipline at the Heat's training camp at a military base, the team is still alarmingly capable of committing several unforced turnovers and sloppy play which allows a solid team like the Bulls to get back into a game. The team also failed to continue attacking the basket consistently through the game after having great success with it in the first quarter. Once the Bulls began hitting their baskets and/or grabbing multiple offensive rebounds to clean up missed shots, all those fast break opportunities dried up.
Regardless of that, the Heat have proven before that they can still push the pace regardless of a made basket simply relying on the quickness of LeBron and Wade in transition. I can't tell you how many times my eyes reflexively look at the shot clock because of how Mario Chalmers and LeBron prefer to walk the basketball up the court and threatening with getting a backcourt violation called on them. It gives the defense plenty of time to set up (instead of looking lost when the Heat were running) and only allows about 15 seconds left to set up a proper play for a good look at the basket.
That's where Bosh comes in. Lots of his shots came when he was open and in good rhythm. I've seen this man make these jumpers one after the other in practice in perfect form. From that range, he's probably the team's best shooter. 99% of the time this is a shot you want him to be taking but after the 5th, 10th, or 15th time the ball isn't going in Bosh should have been more aggressive and attack the basket. Joakim Noah guarded him well but Bosh has the footwork and the spin moves where he could have at the very least put the pressure on Noah to either foul or back off, allowing Bosh an easy basket and get his offensive game going. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Bosh had the worst field goal percentage by a player with at least 18 FG attempts since Mike Newlin went 1-for-22 for the Rockets on Jan. 31, 1973. "It makes it frustrating just knowing that if I would have made two or three of them in a close game like that it would have made a difference," Bosh said on ESPN.
Despite the tough loss, the Heat must be feeling pretty good about that Kendrick Perkins trade (there will be more on that in my wrap-up of the trade deadline later) which essentially opens the door for Miami to snatch that first seed in the Eastern Conference and leaving the Celtics and Bulls to battle it out in a potential second round series. That would be a best case scenario but it still leaves the Heat with the task of beating either of those 2 teams four times in seven games. The Heat may have missed an opportunity to upgrade at the deadline but bought-out players will be considered and there still remains hope that Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem can get healthy and be important contributors. As it stands (and to no one's surprise given how the team was constructed), the Big 3 must play very well for the Heat to win a game. For the playoffs, even that might not be enough.