MIAMI — Erik Spoelstra’s message to Chris Bosh was clear: What goes up must come down. And then go up and come down again. And again. And again.
“What we’ve wanted from him this season was to focus on jumping,” Spoelstra said, “focus on how many jumps can he get in a possession.”
While Bosh might never overwhelm with his lithe build, his 6-foot-11 length is essential for the undersized Miami Heat.
“We’re not talking about flails, not bailouts, not undisciplined shot-fake jumps,” the Heat coach continued, “but to be an anchor for us as a big. When the ball does get into the paint, he’s a big, long presence, when he gets up off the floor.”
Message delivered. Message received.
Bosh’s average of 1.4 blocked shots per game during the regular season matched the highest average of his 10-year career, the first time he recorded 100 or more blocks since his first two seasons in the NBA while with the Toronto Raptors.
And the blocks have kept on coming. With 18 blocks through nine games this postseason, he is one off his highest total for any postseason, when he had 19 for the Heat in 21 games in the 2011 playoffs, when he was cast as a power forward instead of at center.
“It kind of just happened,” Bosh said of closing 17th in the league in blocks per game during the regular season and now sixth in the league during the playoffs. “Spo has been on me about that, not so much blocking shots, but contesting shots and jumping every time I get the opportunity.”
“We need rim protection,” Spoelstra said. “It doesn’t always necessarily have to be a block. But we need to be able to challenge at multiple positions, when it does get into the paint, that it’s not an uncontested, ultra-high percentage shot.