Chris Bosh has yet to accept his role with the Miami Heat. (Alan Diaz/Associated Press)
As most Raptor fans can attest, it's been fun to pile on Chris Bosh's lack of statistical production for the Miami Heat this season. But a funny thing happened over the last four games. Bosh went out and averaged 24.5 points against Phoenix, Charlotte, Memphis and Indiana, respectively.
Yet during that 2-2 stretch, the Heat ran into another problem, one that lands squarely on Bosh's shoulders. Udonis Haslem went and tore a ligament in his foot against the Grizzlies, an injury that will keep the Heat's leading rebounder out at least six weeks. The loss of Haslem is borderline devastating for Miami. Haslem is a vastly underrated player and his absence leaves a major hole in the Heat's rotation.
Miami signed free-agent centre Erick Dampier immediately, but casual Heat fans may be discovering now that Bosh isn't the second coming of Kevin Garnett.
Shaquille O'Neal wasn't just being ornery when he called Bosh "the RuPaul of big men."
It was clear against Phoenix that Miami made a concerted effort to make Bosh the offensive focal point early, feeding him the ball inside or for short jumpers. Of course, the team you are playing against often dictates game plans. The smaller Suns used Channing Frye or Grant Hill to guard Bosh most of the night, two players Bosh should dominate.
Bosh taken to woodshed
On the flip side, despite a 20 and 10 night, Bosh was taken to the proverbial woodshed by Zach Randolph in the fourth quarter of a 97-95 loss in Memphis. Bosh's double-double in that game masked the fact that he barely got to the foul line, and Randolph essentially rendered him moot.
To give Bosh the benefit of the doubt offensively, there have to be enough shots to go around. Last week, Justin Kubatko, the statistical whiz behind basketballreference.com, argued in a column that Bosh's drop in production can be attributed to a reduction in minutes and scoring attempts, simply because he's playing with guys named LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
But this team isn't the 2007-08 Celtics either, where roles were more easily defined. While Bosh unquestionably loves the limelight and playing on a team that warrants media saturation, he has yet to find and accept his role. And that role is playing low and basically being the No. 3 option.
As his years in Toronto demonstrated -- and unlike new teammates James and Wade -- Bosh doesn't have the ability to win games by himself.
Big nights for him offensively will come based on matchups. He can spread defences, but he also needs to play the position of power forward, even if he's never been a power forward in the most traditional sense.
Perhaps the makeup of the Heat throws more traditional basketball out the window -- James alone can conceivably play four of five positions on the floor, which we actually may see more of now with Haslem out.
Yet on the defensive end, before Haslem went down, the Heat had nine straight games with a double-digit rebounder. Bosh only accounted for two of those. His blocks per game are also below his career average. This despite Miami's other bigs being Zydrunas Ilgauskas, the two Canadian centres in Joel Anthony and Jamaal Magloire, and a 37-year-old Juwan Howard.
In the losses to Memphis and Indiana, they were outrebounded 95-71. There comes a time when you have to hold your well-paid six-foot-eleven starting power forward responsible for that. But it also comes back to the biggest knock on this team as a whole -- there isn't any true depth behind the three kings.
After a ridiculously mediocre 8-6 start, can we start the Pat Riley countdown? Very good odds exist that by Valentine's Day, the slicked one will be pacing the sidelines at a two-thirds full American Airlines Arena. Stay tuned.
Raptors make good trade
The biggest news in Raptorland this past week was the trade that brought Peja Stojakovic and Jerryd Bayless to Toronto in exchange for Jarrett Jack, David Andersen and a piece of long-time contractual luggage known as Marcus Banks.
Fan support of Bryan Colangelo has had this habit of fluctuating wildly, but it's hard to disagree that this is a very good trade for Toronto. Getting an expiring contract in Peja, who can shoot some baskets in the meantime, is good, but the added value is Bayless. While not a spectacular shooter, he's a talented 22-year-old point guard with defensive skills. Perhaps as a result of getting a new cell phone, on Monday he tweeted "New Canada phone." No word on whether he's moving into a building that has the cable company that carries NBA League Pass.
Out of five, I'm feeling generous enough to give the trade four Zeke heads.
Griffin gets great hang time
Highlight of the weekend was easily Blake Griffin's NBA jam party against the Knicks. You like posterization?
That was the sort of hang time that NBC programming executives were dreaming about when they needed something to replace Saved By The Bell on Saturday mornings in the mid-90s.
Do you have improvements to suggest for this page?