We all know about the hype that comes with the Miami Heat’s “Big 3″ that includes Dwayne Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh. I have been one of the biggest critics of the “Big 3,” calling them the “Big 2 and a really good role player.” Bosh would be the role player in my eyes because I never thought he was that great when he was the man on the Toronto Raptors. Bosh never led the Raptors out of the first round. While Wade and James have had success in the playoffs. Wade of course led the 2006 Heat team to a title. I have been guilty of criticizing Bosh, calling him soft and a finesse big man among other things. He’s a good player, just not a superstar like a lot of people want to say. In the eyes of most of the public however, this trio is known as the “Big 3.” If that’s the case, Bosh is clearly the one who gets the least pub out of the three, but he might be the most important part. I know a lot of people would call me crazy for saying this. But let me tell you why I feel this way. First of all, I’ve always said that Wade and James are the same type of player in essence. Both’s main strengths are attacking the rim and getting to the foul line, and they both need the ball in their hands to be the dominant force that we’ve come to expect from them. Bosh is a very versatile post player whose mid-range jumper is one of the best in the league. Bosh’s diversity helps pull one of the other team’s big men away from the paint because of that jumper, which opens up the paint for Wade and James to penetrate. Secondly, both Wade and James play well off of Bosh because Bosh doesn’t necessarily need the ball in his hands to be effective. Bosh is comfortable coming off of screens and just taking advantage of the opportunities he does get to shine. Without Bosh, you won’t have the spacing that you would have with him on the floor. This means you can pack the paint with defenders and force Wade and James to become jump-shooters, which we all know is not the biggest strength of the two stars. This is what faces Wade and James starting tonight in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals series against the Indiana Pacers, which the Heat do lead 1-0. Bosh is out indefinitely with a strained abdominal muscle and losing him could cost the Heat the NBA title (I didn’t think the Heat would win the title anyway, but losing Bosh really makes this difficult). Now were about to see just how good this superstar duo really is, because they will be called upon to step up more than ever. We hear so much about how James has improved his mid-range game this year. We’re about to find out because the paint will be clogged with Pacers defenders. The mid-range jumper will be all that’s available. The spacing on the court that Bosh provided won’t be there as a saving grace. To further make my point valid, all you have to do is look at the numbers from the regular season. The Heat were 4-5 without Bosh in the lineup, but 14-3 without Wade in the lineup. I know the playoffs are different and the numbers may be a little bit overstated based on the amount of rest some players were getting at the end of the regular season, but that has to say something about how important Bosh is to the Heat’s success. This has now become a defining moment in the careers of Wade and James. It’s ironic that the least talked-about person in the “Big 3″ may be the key piece in the Heat’s dream of throwing that victory parade down in South Beach.
By Charles Taylor