MIAMI (AP) - The last time Chris Bosh played against the San Antonio Spurs, he was offensively brilliant.
It seems like a long time ago.
During the Eastern Conference finals, Bosh found himself in a baffling slump, missing 26 of his last 34 shots and not even reaching the double-digit mark in scoring during any of his last four games _ the longest such drought for the All-Star big man since a five-game streak that began during the first week of his NBA career.
All that, he hopes, will be forgotten now. A new series has arrived, and the stakes couldn’t be higher when Bosh and the Miami Heat begin taking on the Spurs in the NBA Finals, with Game 1 set for Thursday night.
“My confidence never goes anywhere,” Bosh said. “It never wavers. It’s always the same. I feel that I’m always capable of playing well. This is a different circumstance. I take it as that, and I move on.”
That’s exactly what the Heat want to hear from their starting center.
For three years now, the Heat _ who have LeBron James and Dwyane Wade on the roster _ have routinely insisted that Bosh is Miami’s most important player. And against a Spurs team that has a consummate big man in Tim Duncan, along with a combination of size and athleticism that can easily give any opponent fits, the Heat will surely need help from Bosh if they’re to successfully defend their title.
“I like the way he left off last series,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Very comfortable. He looked comfortable. Even though he didn’t necessarily convert a lot of his makes, it was more similar to his game. And he’s proven it before that one series doesn’t dictate necessarily what happens the next series, particularly when match-ups and styles of play are different.”
Bosh scored nine points in the Game 7 win over Indiana, his best total in the final four games of that series. He shot 1 for 6 in Game 4, 3 for 7 in Game 5, 1 for 8 in Game 6 and then 3 for 13 in the final game of the East title matchup.
That’s 28 points, total, in four games. He’s scored at least that many on 106 single-game occasions in his career.
A quick start in Game 1 of the finals is what Bosh is looking for now, if for no other reason than to forget what he’s been dealing with of late.
“We always want to be aggressive individually and as a team,” Bosh said. “You know, I want to really get going early offensively in games, because it helps me, we play better, I think I play better. Just coming out being aggressive and just really looking for my spots that establishes me early. And I think it propels me for the rest of the game.”
The irony here is that while Bosh is in the worst offensive slump of his season _ and most significant one of his career, arguably _ is that when Miami visited San Antonio on March 31, he was an offensive fireplug.
With James and Wade sitting out that night because of injuries, Bosh was the No. 1 option, all the way to the end. And the Heat pulled off an 88-86 victory when Bosh made a 3-pointer over Tim Duncan with about a second remaining, capping what was a 23-point night.
Bosh had 23 points in his very next game as well. He’s gotten to the 20-point mark _ and it was exactly 20 _ only one time in his 19 appearances since.