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Sacrifice Turns Into Strength For Bosh

He placed that request with the players and also his coaching staff after the Heat fell in The Finals to the Dallas Mavericks in 2011. That forced guys like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to do some self-examination and find a weakness and turn it into a strength or find something they hadnt done much of and turn into a staple.

For James, it was about asserting himself and becoming the leader of this crew. For Wade, it was about learning how to defer to another superstar (or two, when needed), something foreign to his system as the lone superstar here before James and Bosh showed up. And for Bosh, it became about expanding his game and becoming the positionless big man Spoelstra needed for this team to play to its strengths.

Perhaps no ones sacrifice has been greater than Boshs. Hes had to abandon the conventional low-post construct most NBA big men operate in and learn how to play center while operating from the 3-point line in, a change that has come gradually over the past two seasons. Hes not a 3-point specialist by any stretch as he made just 21 this season and shot just 28 percent. But hes capable of being a threat from that distance if the Heat need him to be. He shot 54 percent from deep during the Heats championship run last season.

Thats where he becomes positionless, Spoelstra said. Is he a [four] or a [five]. As long hes doing the things that help us be versatile, thats what makes him so special and unique to us, his versatility. And if you dont have a player such as Chris, with his versatility

Just ask the Milwaukee Bucks, who have to figure out a way to deal with three of the leagues most versatile players tonight in Game 2 of their first round playoff series.

They couldnt handle any of them in Game 1. But Bosh was a particularly tough matchup because he stretched the floor early with two 3-pointers, drawing Bucks rim protector Larry Sanders away from his comfort zone and opening up the floor for James and Wade to operate.

Bosh might not make another 3-pointer in Game 2 tonight or the entire series, for that matter. And thats fine with Spoelstra, who insists that the fact that Bosh has polished that part of his game and can use it is far more important than worrying about whether he actually utilizes that skill.

Everybody wants to put him in a box, Spoelstra said. Everybody wanted to make him a low-post, back-in guy to give us a post/paint presence. He can do that. But if you only have him do that, you can limit him. He does so many other things. And the other things he has done for us allows us to play our game. But ironically, those are often the things he will be criticized for. But without him, sometimes its tough to do what we do.

Bosh is well aware of the critics and their often savage reviews of his game. In Toronto, he was a stretch four who had to serve as his teams only true post presence and did so to the tune of 24 points and 11 rebounds in his final season with the Raptors. But Bosh has had to come to grips with the fact that his game is greater when he expands it beyond the conventional.

Its just knowing that its not necessarily what this team needs me to do, Bosh said. I know its unorthodox for people to really see what type of player I am and what they needed me to be here. You have to really be open-minded. You see a big and they want to put you in a box. A guy might outweigh you by 50 or 60 pounds and you still have to back him down and be effective. If the team doesnt need me to do that Im not going to waste my time trying to bang dudes and shoot turnaround jumpers and hook shots all night. Its going to be there sometimes, but Im just going to be all over the court. And because of that I think Ive become a much better player.

Bosh knows he could have stuck around in Toronto or even gone somewhere else and put up the sort of numbers he did in his Raptors days. He could be the centerpiece of a team and probably play exclusively in whatever comfort zone he wanted to. Hes also certain that he wouldnt be the player he has become since coming here.

To truly be a really good player, the things you do well, you have to do them [well] in the playoffs during crunch time situations, when its the toughest, he said. Ive noticed since Ive been here thats how you become a really good player, a great player. Ive gained a lot of respect for guys who have done that over and over in the past, guys who have not necessarily been in the superstar role. Being in the mainstream you always think it was just Shaq and Kobe [Bryant]or [Michael] Jordan and [Scottie] Pippen. But those other guys had to perform and play well, too. It takes a team to win a championship, and just playing on that elite, high level is really amazing.

And if that means Bosh has to be reclassified again, so be it.

Ill be whatever the team needs, he said and then smiled. Stretch five, stretch four, back to the basket, face up, catch and go. Im working to do it all.

The Heats championship plans this season depend on exactly that.

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NBA: Celtics vs Lakers Betting Preview

In the history of the NBA, two teams stand above the rest, the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers. These two franchises have combined to win 32 NBA titles. Boston has beaten the Lakers nine of 11 meetings in the NBA Finals which substantiates the point for many people of substance over style. The teams meet again in the 2010 NBA Finals, starting on Thursday night. Oddsmakers at have installed Los Angeles, who has the home court advantage, as a -180 series favorite.
The Lakers like to make the argument that in spite of having a couple less titles than the Celtics, theirs is the better franchise having a bit of Jack Nicklaus in them, finishing runner-up 16 times.
What makes this appointment television is history. For many of the players let alone those tuned in to watch, this matchup is about Larry Bird, Bill Russell, Magic Johnson and Jerry West. What made this important is they met one another over a short period of time. Boston defeated the Lakers seven times from 1959 to 1969 and they met three times in four years from 1984 to 1987.
That is what makes this renewal even better than two June’s ago. The last time basketball fans had a 21-year break between heated encounters, this time most of the combatants are the same that met two years prior. What is different this time compared to 2008 when the Celtics hung their first NBA championship banner since 1986?
Trust and Age
Though Ray Allen was having brutal postseason two years ago, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in particular were at the top of their respective games. Each was able to dominate for lengthy periods of any contest and did in those six games.
Today, neither KG nor Pierce has that same ability; both can make a series of outstanding plays to help Boston, just in a shorter time span. The Celtics are helped by Allen being a much stronger contributor now, but the driving force of this Doc Rivers club is Rajon Rondo. The former Kentucky product has exploded onto the scene in the playoffs and been the catalyst behind the Celtics success. The C’s now feed off what Rondo delivers.
Two years ago, Kobe did not trust his teammates. He demanded total effort in the biggest games and they did not deliver to his liking. Last year’s title drive was all about finishing the deal and becoming champions again and though Bryant has his doubts from time to time about the 2010 edition of the Lake Show, he knows what to expect from Derek Fisher, Pau Gasol and to a lesser degree Lamar Odom and Ron Artest.
It’s all about the matchups
How does Boston limit Kobe’s effectiveness? Doc Rivers coach’s by feel more than X’s and O’s during games. Rivers will go after Bryant with Baskin-Robbins approach, using a variety of methods. Guard Kobe tight to force him to drive into lane where the Celtics big men can create issues. Let him shoot from the outside to prevent him from getting fouled too often and adding up points. They will double Kobe on the wings or single him up in the middle of the floor and go with what works best.
Derek Fisher took it as personal mission to stay with Steve Nash in West finals, but he has nowhere near enough foot speed to stay with Rondo. That means Bryant will see Rondo aplenty and if Boston wants to slow the pace, L.A. will be cool with that process, since Bryant can use his size and wing span to stay in front of Rondo. Expect coach Rivers to dictate to Rondo to run at every opportunity to maximize his effectiveness.
Pierce and Artest is a potential swing matchup in the series. Pierce’s jab step jumper is more deadly when he sets up defender by driving to the bucket. If he can make Artest indecisive about his intentions, he could frustrate Ron-Ron into drawing silly fouls and taking him mentally out of the game.
Artest has to knock down enough shots to keep Pierce honest on defense and prevent him from clogging driving lanes. Artest’s job on the other end of the floor is to limit Pierce’s scoring ability and work him so that his legs don’t give him the leverage he needs late in the game to make jumpers.
In the frontcourt, Boston will try and manhandle the Lakers bigs with their imposing strength using Kendrick Perkins, Glen Davis and Rasheed Wallace to roughhouse. Los Angeles should be accustomed to these tactics, expect Phil Jackson to try and manufacture matchups playing to the strengths of Gasol, Odom and Andrew Bynum in the triangle offense.
Coaching counts
In 2008, the Rivers vs. Jackson coaching matchup was thought to be akin to choosing between Snookie of “Jersey Shore” and Megan Fox. Rivers it turns out is the right coach for Boston, continually pushing his club to do better thru effort and precision and working game plans with mastermind assistant Tom Thibodeau.
Jackson was almost passive when his club lost to the Celtics in the finals two seasons ago, but has been much more involved the last two years, not sitting idly by wanting players to learn from adversity. He’s been more aggressive in substitution patterns and back to trying different bench players in various situations to find the spark when needed.
ATS nuts and bolts
Both teams were unreliable home teams wagers with the Lakers 42-7 and 21-27-2 ATS record and the Celtics 31-19 and 19-30-1 ATS. Given their ability and skill, each was a factor as visitors with Boston 31-18 (26-22-1 ATS) and L.A. 27-22 (22-26-1 ATS).
In the last three years the Celtics “Big Three” is 7-5 and 9-2 ATS against Los Angeles. The road team has won five games outright of the previous 13 meetings, however just one was in the finals in 2008.
You will read the home court is not a significant factor because of how the visitors have played lately, but if you are making series wager, the teams with home court advantage has won eight of last ten.
What happens?
Only once in the previous 25 years has seed other than No. 1-3 won the NBA championship and Boston was a four seed coming into the postseason. Eddie House and Leon Powe were significant players for the Celtics in the last finals meeting, both play elsewhere today.
Gasol and Bryant together are better players than the previous finals confrontation and the Lakers are 44-0 in any series with Jackson as coach if they win Game 1.
This will be rugged, physical series, with the trophy staying in L.A.
Pick- L.A. Lakers (-180) in seven over Boston (+150) has all the latest NBA odds, stats, trends and news you need for winning your basketball wagers.

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