MIAMI (AP) — Chris Bosh was the No. 1 scoring option in Toronto for most of his seven seasons, just as LeBron James was in Cleveland and Dwyane Wade was in Miami over that span.
Times have changed.
When they’re on the court together, someone has to be a No. 2 or No. 3 option for the Heat, a role that none of them has held in years. And even after starting 5-2 in Miami, the “Big 3” say making that adjustment — an ongoing process — may be the biggest challenge for a team that has championship aspirations.
“Sometimes, I get a little lost out there,” Bosh acknowledged Saturday night. “This is different. We have a system, but at the same time, when the game’s happening so fast sometimes I just get lost. I don’t know whether to cut, whether to go, whether to get back and play with those two talented guys. It happens real fast.”
So Bosh sought out James on the Heat charter flight home from New Orleans after a three-point loss on Friday night. The chat was wide-ranging, but mostly revolved around how they could best complement each other and further integrate themselves into a Heat system that has been built around Wade for nearly a decade.
The initial results of their conversation were promising, to say the least. Wade scored 29 points, James had 23 and Bosh had 21 in Saturday night’s win over New Jersey, the first game where the three of them all topped the 20-point plateau this season.
“I didn’t really care about whether they each were scoring over 20 points,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It was more about being aggressive, being athletic, being quick and they all had a different disposition.”
Spoelstra doesn’t buy into the notions of No. 1 option, No. 2 option, so on and so forth.
In the Heat philosophy, if someone’s open, he’s the No. 1 option. When Bosh started Saturday’s game by missing three shots in a 2-minute stretch, Spoelstra grabbed him and advised him to keep shooting.
Bosh was 6 for 9 from the floor the rest of the way.
“I was actually encouraged by his aggressiveness,” Spoelstra said. “That’s who he is. We can’t take that away from any of our guys.”
The Heat were off on Sunday. They return to practice Monday morning, then host the Utah Jazz on Tuesday night.
To be clear, there was no rift between Bosh and James, nor any angst over how many shots they or anyone else on the Heat is getting. Bosh is taking about five fewer shots per night than he averaged in his final two seasons in Toronto, while James is firing off roughly six less attempts than he averaged with the Cavaliers.
From the night they signed with Miami, Wade, James and Bosh all have said they wouldn’t care about stats, and so far that rings true.
“What I got out of the whole conversation was us getting to know each other on a more personal level,” James said. “When you can do that it makes the game much easier. … He was able to open up to me and I was able to listen and get a good feel where he is coming from. I know a lot about D-Wade. I have had multiple conversations with him over the years. Our cohesiveness on the court is great.”
Bigger than any victory for Miami so far has likely been the fact that while the offensive pieces are still getting put together at times, the Heat defense is already working — to Spoelstra’s delight.
Miami is one of three teams, Orlando and New Orleans being the others, who haven’t allowed any opponent to top the 100-point mark so far this season.
Given that, it’s only a matter of time for the offense to get rolling, Wade said.
“It’s only been seven games,” Wade said. “We can look at the next seven as hopefully being better than we were in the first seven. … If you’ve seen some of our practices, man, we get after each other in practice and (Spoelstra) wants us to bring that same intensity to every game. Some nights, he’s not looking for offense to really be at a point where it’s dominant until it’s 20, 30 games down the road.”