With star Dwyane Wade missing games more frequently this season, the Miami Heat are finding Chris Bosh has developed into an invaluable asset away from the post.
On Sunday against San Antonio, Miami's Chris Bosh scored 20 or more points for sixth time in seven games.
J. Pat Carter / AP
By Charlie McCarthyFOX Sports Florida
MIAMI -- Chris Bosh's development as an all-around player has been both obvious and timely for the Miami Heat.
With Dwyane Wade missing games to rest his sore knees this season, Bosh often has stepped up his offensive game to complement LeBron James and show how far he has come since signing with Miami in the summer of 2010.
Pride, court intelligence and dedication have played a big part in Bosh improving his skill set, but even the 6-foot-11 center/forward admitted his game might not have matured the way it has if he hadn't joined he Heat.
"I would like to say yes, but probably not," Bosh told FOX Sports Florida after he scored a game-high 24 points to help the Heat beat San Antonio 113-101 on Sunday afternoon at AmericanAirlines Arena.
"The style that we play, everything has been a challenge. I could have stayed in my comfort zone, stayed in the post ... I eventually would have gotten better at that, but stretching out to the perimeter more probably would not have happened."
Opponents are taking notice of Bosh's outside game.
"He just basically popped out, caught and shot -- it kind of caught me off guard in that respect," Spurs center Tim Duncan said. "That's huge for them if they can get those points and that efficiency from him. That's a game changer."
A "game changer" for a two-time defending championship team? Sounds overindulgent, until one considers the Heat have endured absences by Wade -- he missed four in a row before coming off the bench Sunday -- and the addition of several new players that have created a more flexible, and at times uncertain, rotation.
With his latest performance, Bosh scored 20 or more points for sixth time in seven games -- a string that began with three straight 25-or-more-point performances for the first time as a member of the Heat. More impressively, he has shot 61 percent during the seven-game stretch.
He hit 9 of 10 against San Antonio after sinking is final 8 shots in Thursday night's win against the Los Angeles Lakers. That's a combined 17 of 18, with the only miss being a 3-point try.
Hitting shots is one thing, trying to be aggressive within the framework of an offense that excels best when sharing the ball is another.
"That's the difficulty. It's taken me about three years to figure it out," Bosh said. "You just have to make your play and live with it. That's part of it."
Often this season, coach Erik Spoelstra has said Bosh is the most important player when it comes to be the Miami's offensive facilitator.
"The thing about Chris is he has great emotional stability," Spoelstra said. "It's not about his ego, it's not about his touches, it's about winning, making winning plays, making the right plays. He has that stability plus the IQ plus the skill level. You add all that together he can read the situation,, read three game, whatever we need ... all that happened in the flow. We didn't call play sets for him."
At times on Sunday, Bosh and 7-foot Greg Oden were on the floor together -- a pairing that might not have been worked a few years ago when Bosh was still trying to expand his game.
"If we were where we were three years ago, it would be a little but more clumsy," Spoelstra said. "We would have had the benefits of it defensively, but offensively a lot of things of what we do right now would have been compromised it really took CB's evolution over three years."
With James and Wade elected as starters for next months's All-Star Game, Bosh still ranks third among Miami's Big Three to many fans. But the left-hander's maturation, more evident with Wade's situation, likely will be a key factor if a three-peat happens.
"I'm a much better player all-around," said Bosh, comparing his game to what it was when he played seven years with the Toronto Raptors.
"I'm able to hit the 3, able to make passes, catch and go ... the post game's always been there. Just a better feel for the game. I've played a lot more basketball, so the experience is there. I just try to keep it going and try to learn as much as possible. Never confined."