Prior to the start of the 2011 Eastern Conference finals, Chicago Bulls forward Carlos Boozer hinted that the Miami Heat have only two real superstars on the team, an obvious slap-in-the-face directed at Heat forward Chris Bosh.
Bosh claims he wasn’t upset with the comment, but you bet he read Boozer’s remark and wasn’t very pleased about it. Some players say they’re not affected by bulletin-board material, but every athlete in the world uses every little diss, no matter how big or small, as motivation.
Three games into the Heat-Bulls series, Bosh is playing like a man looking to put a muzzle on someone (hello Mr. Boozer!). He scored 30 points in Game on 12-of-18 shooting, and in a pivotal Game in Miami the supposed third wheel in the Big Three cog poured in 34 points on 13-of-18 shooting to push the Heat to a 2-1 series edge.
“I just want to be aggressive and have some kind of imprint in this series,” Bosh told TNT’s Craig Sager. “I had an aggressive Game 1. Game 2 was so-so but we still won. Here on our home floor I just wanted to be aggressive and it turned out to be a good game.”
Bosh has been so efficient in the series that even even the outspoken Joakim Noah has nothing but good things to say about the much-maligned Heat star. “He played excellent,” Noah said.
LeBron James said he changed his game plan in Game 3 to accommodate Bosh, allowing him to get more looks at the basket. “If I needed to get it going offensively I could, but the great thing about it is CB had it going. When we have someone on our team going, we continue to give the ball to him. The team feeds off his energy offensively and he brought it home for us.”
Bosh is without a doubt winning his one-on-one battle with Boozer, who has been real quiet in this series. Boozer did post nice numbers in Game 3 (26 points and 17 rebounds), but he only had 14 and 9 and 7 and 8 the previous two games, not exactly the type of numbers the Bulls were hoping from their high-priced free agent acquisition during the summer.
If the Heat are going to advance to the NBA Finals, the Heat know they need Bosh to play like an All-Star. Statistics show the Heat almost unbeatable when Bosh plays well. And so far the former Toronto Raptor is making Boozer eat his words.