Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – After cruising through what was effectively a scrimmage against the Charlotte Bobcats Friday night, the Miami Heat came out storming against the Knicks and look to follow that up Monday night against the New Jersey Nets.
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade combined for 57 points against the Knicks Sunday afternoon. But it was Chris Bosh who showed once again that he will be the deciding factor as to whether or not Miami can win an NBA title this year.
“We were struggling, as in to play a complete game on the road, and what better place to come in and focus then here, where this team has been playing well and can embarrass you if you don’t play your game,” Wade said. “So understanding that this could obviously be a first-round matchup as well, I thought today we came in, we didn’t play amazing, but played good enough to win the game. We did a lot of good things, so it was a good time for it.”
Bosh scored just 16 points, but he crashed the boards for 14 rebounds. He started the game at what would be the center position and did a lot of things great both on the stat sheet and off.
Bosh has been missing in action in recent weeks, but if Sunday’s game was a preview of the playoff run, then Miami should be in good shape. Of course the Knicks were without Amar’e Stoudemire, so it’s key not to read too much into Bosh’s performance.
If Bosh can consistently score and rebound, it takes a huge load off of LeBron and D-Wade and allows them to have much more space to slash to the basket. Bosh can draw the bigger defenders away from the basket and leave both LeBron and Wade large paths to the hoop.
Combine that with some better shooting from Mike Miller, Shane Battier, Mario Chalmers, and James Jones and the floor could be effectively spread to allow LeBron and Wade to do some serious damage to their playoff opponents.
But, the bench has continued to be an Achilles’ heel for the Heat. During Sunday’s Knicks game, the bench contributed a total of 15 points and Udonis Haslem, who started, scored no points and grabbed just two rebounds in 17 minutes of action.
That’s not going to cut it as the playoffs begin in a few weeks.
On the bright side, the Heat did their damage yesterday without Ronny Turiaf who was resting a strained hamstring suffered before Friday’s Bobcats game. The Heat have clinched the Southeast Division championship as of Sunday and are locked into the number two seed.
If the playoffs started today, the Heat would play Philadelphia 76ers. Philadelphia has struggled against the Heat this season losing all four games against Miami. Last year, Miami beat the 76ers in the first round of the playoffs in just five games.
After that, the Heat would face one of the following teams in the second round: Indiana Pacers, Orlando Magic, Boston Celtics, or Atlanta Hawks. Of those teams, the only one the Heat will likely fear is the Celtics, who have shut the Heat down in recent weeks.