Why the Heat won without Bosh

"Wade, is something missing?" "Doesn't matter"

When Bosh went down in the first game against the Pacers there was fear about what would happen. The Heat wound up in a 2-1 hole and there were lots of tales being spun. Let’s review a few key concepts though:

  • LeBron James is amazing and can play multiple positions
  • Dwyane Wade is amazing and his playing well impacts the Heat’s success
  • Things like the Bosh effect are possible but unlikely.

With a convincing win to even up the season, let’s see if these hold up. Same old disclaimer: This is a small sample size but we’re sports fans and waiting until the playoffs are completely done to discuss them isn’t fun.

LeBron is amazing and can play multiple positions

Arturo’s claim was that not only could the Heat handle the loss of Bosh as a big, they had a great alternative. They could simply have LeBron James handle playing more PF and he would do that spectacularly. In the three games since Bosh has gone down here are LeBron’s per 48 minute stats compared to an average power forward’s. Stats after Points over Par are listed in order of importance.

Stat LeBron James Average PF
PoP +6.9  0.0 
Steals  3.8 1.2 
Assists  6.4  2.4 
Personal Fouls  0.8  4.5 
Net Points  1.9  1.2 
Offensive Rebounds  4.2  3.6 
Defensive Rebounds  8.7  7.9 
Blocks  0.8  1.6 
Turnovers  4.2  2.4 

With the exception of blocks and turnovers Bron has done everything a power forward is supposed to do. He also brings his amazing ball handling skills to the table too. An interesting note is that while Bron has been scoring and rebounding well, the key driver in his production has been his steals, passing and the fact that he hasn’t been fouling! Alright, so Bron can clearly play a big man. In fact he’s able to play it at a level not seen since Elgin Baylor in 1961! The skills of a point guard in the body of a big man is a recipe for success.

Dwyane Wade is amazing his play matters to the Heat’s success

Dwyane Wade is a great player. A key component behind behind a great player is that your play impacts your team’s performance. After all, if Wade played terribly and the Heat still played great then it would be hard to argue he mattered. When the Heat tied up the series with the Pacers it turns out that Wade played very well. In fact, behind Bron’s 40-18-9 performance was a great Wade.

Miami Heat’s top performers on 2012-05-20

Player Pos MP PoP/48 PoP/G
LeBron James 3.8 43.9 +13.2 +12.1
Dwyane Wade 1.8 40.8 +10.9 +9.2

Wade scored 30 points on 58.5% true shooting and also had six assists. As you may recall,  Wade’s primary drivers in his performance are scoring and passing. With him back to old levels the Heat took down the Pacers. Now what about the Bosh effect?

The Bosh effect

Chris Yeh decided to take a microscope to the small sample size of games without Bosh and with Wade.  The following is all his analysis.

The full season totals for Bron, Wade and Bosh was as follows:

As we’d expect: LeBron kicks ass, Wade’s pretty good, Bosh sucks. Now let’s look just at the three stretches where Bosh missed games:

March 1-4 (3 games)

  • LeBron: +12.8
  • Wade: +1.3

April 18-26 (6 games)

  • LeBron: +10.6
  • Wade: +5.5
In the regular season, LeBron played even better in Bosh’s absence, while Wade was pretty good. Then came the playoffs:

May 15-17 (2 games)

  • LeBron: +3.5
  • Wade: -7.5

Wow. LeBron has been a poor man’s Matt Barnes, while Wade has been worse than regular season Juwan Howard (-7.1). The only worse player on the Heat? Eddy Curry. All conclusions subject to the law of small numbers, but it looks like there is no Bosh Effect. In the regular season, his absence didn’t negatively impact the Heat’s Big Two. The Pacers just stuck it to the Heat. Thanks Chris!

Summing up

Wade really matters to the Heat’s success. This is not anything new. If Wade plays poorly the natural response is to ask why. It’s possible he just had a bad game or two. It’s possible he’s injured. Yes, it’s even possible that the lack of Bosh is why he’s played worse. All I can say is that when trying to explain a player’s performance that going for the least likely explanation first may not make the most sense. This is even more true when there is pretty much no evidence that the least likely explanation is even true. Heat fans should be happy that Wade appears to be back and that the Bosh effect may not exist. We’ll have to wait and see how this series plays and then we can overanalyze two or three games.




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