MIAMI — Chris Bosh really doesn’t have a nickname other than the mundane “CB.’’
If the Miami Heat center keeps shooting the 3-pointer the way he did Sunday, perhaps he’ll get one.
“Locked and loaded,’’ teammate Dwyane Wade said about Bosh.
When it was suggested to Heat backup center Chris Andersen that what Wade said might qualify as a nickname candidate, Andersen didn’t disagree.
“He’s locked and loaded and needs to pull the trigger,’’ Andersen said.
Bosh shot 3 of 4 from 3-point range in Miami’s 110-87 win over Milwaukee in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference first-round series. Game 2 is Tuesday at AmericanAirlines Arena.
True, it’s just one game into the postseason. But Heat coach Erik Spoelstra seems ready to utilize Bosh from beyond the arc more than ever before.
It’s an experiment that began in earnest before last season. Bosh, then starting at power forward, began to regularly take 3-pointers during practices.
Bosh wasn’t a high-volume 3-point shooter during the 2011-12 regular season, going 10 of 35. But then he had his moments in the playoffs, shooting 7 of 13.
Bosh this season was given even more of a green light to fire from long range. He had career highs in 3-pointers made (21) and attempted (74) while shooting 28.4 percent.
“(The corner is) where we want him right now,’’ Spoelstra said. “More than anywhere else is that shot (rather) than threes from the top of the key.”
Spoelstra said Bosh doesn’t necessarily need to make that many 3-pointers from the corner to be effective. If he simply can draw the defense out to guard him, it opens up the court for other players.
But Sunday might have been a preview of things to come in this postseason. You get the sense Bosh is going to want to make his fair share of 3-pointers while utilizing a shot that continues to get better.
“I love shooting the ball,’’ Bosh said. “The corner three is an effective shot. Our principles are to spread the floor. So in order for us to be more flexible, I have to extend my range a little bit, just really work on that. Part of being a better player is taking on new challenges. …It’s been something I’ve been trying to master for awhile. … I know I can shoot the basketball whether it surprises people or not.’’
Bosh said he wants to get to the point where he makes half of his 3-pointers. Even though only seven players in NBA history have shot 50 percent or better in a season and Steve Kerr holds the career percentage record at 45.4, Bosh insisted he’s not joking.
Bosh also said he takes 1,000 3-pointers a day in practice while making an average of about 900. That was a joke even if Bosh mostly kept a straight face.
“It’s a steady amount of about 100, 200 a day,’’ said Spoelstra, setting the record straight about how many Bosh attempts.
When it comes to games, the Heat are gaining more and more confidence in Bosh with each 3-pointer he takes.
“It’s huge,’’ Wade said of Bosh bombs being an additional weapon on a Miami team that already has plenty. “It allows us to be able to keep our best players on the floor when they go to different lineups. Obviously, Milwaukee is going to make an adjustment, we understand that. Chris has totally revamped his game from what he was. … He gets (the ball) and it’s going up and we love it, especially at this time of the year.’’
Bosh’s game has undergone a transformation since he bolted Toronto as a free agent in the summer of 2010 to join the Heat. While Bosh averaged as many as 24.0 points during his seven seasons with the Raptors, he had to learn to become a more versatile player to find his niche on the deep Heat.
With the Heat not having a true center and the 6-foot-11, 235-pound Bosh having to play the position by default, they don’t always need him to bang inside while on offense. He often can be more effective stepping outside and spreading the court.
“I know it’s unorthodox for people to see what type player I am and what they needed me to be,’’ said Bosh, who averaged 16.6 points and 6.8 rebounds during the regular season while shooting a career-high 53.5 percent. “You see a big and they want to put you in a box. They say, ‘Hey, put your back to the basket.’ Even though a guy might outweigh me by 50 or 60 pounds, you still got to back him down. … If a team doesn’t need me to do that, I’m not going to waste my time and just try to bang dudes and shoot turnaround jump shots and hooks all night.’’
Bosh often steps out for mid-range jumpers. Now, he’s getting even more comfortable stepping back behind the line.
Come Tuesday, Bosh looks ready to pull the trigger again.