Just the threat of Chris Bosh shooting from long range has changed the complexion of the 2012 NBA Finals.
Through two games, Bosh has connected on just 1-of-4 attempts from 3-point range as he is still recovering from a strained abdominal injury suffered just over a month ago.
Although he is shooting 42 percent from the field in the Finals, Bosh’s presence alone on offense has greatly changed Oklahoma City’s plans defending the post.
Since he has added a reliable 3-point shot to his offensive repertoire, Serge Ibaka can’t just drift off Bosh and protect the rim, something he does better than anyone in the league.
During the regular season, Ibaka blocked 3.7 shots per game, nearly double the amount of any other player in the league and finishing with the highest block average in a decade.
Game 1 marked the first time since March 1 he failed to reject a shot attempt.
Although he responded with five blocks Thursday night, Ibaka hasn’t provided the impact in the post needed for Oklahoma City.
During the first two games, Bosh clearly outplayed his counterpart.
Bosh averaged 13 points, 10 rebounds and a block per game, highlighted by his 15 rebound effort in Game 2, while Ibaka has managed 8.5 points, five rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game in the series.
Ibaka’s 7-for-15 shooting from the field has been problematic for the Thunder, as his normally reliable mid-range jumper has not fallen during the championship series.
All three scorers from Oklahoma City, James Harden, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, have successfully run the pick-and-roll with Ibaka, but if his jump shot is not falling, defenders can cheat off Ibaka and crowd the player slashing to the rim.
Even though Bosh is shooting six percentage points less than his regular season average, he has found a way to remain prominently involved in Miami’s offensive attack.
Simply by making hustle plays, Bosh has found a way to provide a huge impact.
In Game 2, seven of his rebounds came on the offensive end and he tipped out several missed shots to teammates to retain possession.
Miami finished with 11 offensive rebounds on 76 missed shots in Game 2, a number clearly impacted by Bosh returning to the starting lineup.
The return to the starting lineup was a decision made by Bosh in practice.
When the Heat was lining up for Wednesday’s session, he joined the starting rotation by simply going with the starters instead of the reserves. Bosh played his first four games off the bench after suffering his injury during the series opener against the Pacers.
Bosh’s 15 rebounds matched a career-high in the post season, as he totaled the same number against the Magic in 2008 while he was still in Toronto.
Since he was so effective, Bosh was able to play for 40 minutes, his highest total of the 2012 playoffs.
Miami has connected on over 45 percent of its attempts each of the first two games and James is averaging 31 points per game with the lane open.
With Bosh being able to dictate where Ibaka plays on the floor, the Heat may claim the 2012 NBA championship.