The NBA season is over after a remarkable seven-game series from the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs. LeBron James captured his second straight NBA Finals Most Valuable Player trophy, Dwyane Wade notched his third NBA championship and Miami fans are preparing for a parade on Monday.
There were many memorable moments in Game 7: James draining the jumpers San Antonio was allowing him, Tim Duncan missing an easy layup to tie the game with under a minute left in the fourth quarter, Shane Battier sinking six of his eight three-point field goals. If defense wins championships, however, Chris Bosh's performance should be at the top of that list. His post defense against Duncan, transition defense and defensive rotations were more important than any amount of points he could have scored.
As Miami's lone big when they play small, Bosh's speed in transition is a critical part of the Heat's defense. Here, Bosh chases down Tony Parker while he drives to the rim and blocks his fast break layup attempt.
It's not just about blocking shot attempts in transition, however. Blocks make highlights, but Bosh's hustle to get back on defense slowed down the Spurs' offense and limited their fast break opportunities.
Duncan gives the ball to Manu Ginobili to run the fast break, but when he crosses half-court Bosh is already in position to stop him on the perimeter. Instead of having one defender to beat in Wade, Ginobili now also has Bosh in front of him. This stops the transition opportunity and allows Miami to set their half-court defense.
Duncan sets a screen for Ginobili but Wade and Bosh are set and cover the pick-and-roll.
Ginobili passes to Parker. Parker drives and makes an entry pass to Duncan. Bosh does a phenomenal job of rotating back to Duncan and defending while isolated in the low post. Duncan struggled from the field throughout the night and made only eight of his 18 field goals. Bosh's post defense deserves recognition as he forced Duncan into difficult shots.
Bosh's off-ball defense in the post was also great. He fought to stay in front of Duncan and pushed him away from the low post seemingly every possession. Here, Bosh fronts Duncan effectively. Parker drives to create a passing lane since he is unable to make an entry pass to Duncan.
Parker drives past Mario Chalmers, but Bosh rotates to cut off his dribble penetration.
Parker passes to Duncan after running into Bosh. Bosh again does a great job of defending Duncan in the post to force the miss.
Here, Bosh successfully fronts Duncan again and forces Danny Green to handle the ball. Bosh makes a great decision to rotate away from Duncan to trap Green and forces a turnover.
Green had nowhere to pass out of this trap from Bosh and Battier.
Wade and Chalmers both get a hand on the ball, and James ends up with the steal.
Bosh did everything for Miami's defense. From playing a physical game against Duncan to moving fluently and intelligently off-ball, Bosh was locked in.
Here, the Spurs run Kawhi Leonard over the top of a screen from both Parker and Duncan. Bosh recognizes Leonard is cutting to the paint and opens his defensive stance to take away Leonard's driving lane. He then rotates back to the perimeter to stay on Duncan.
Duncan sets a screen for Parker and hands him the ball. Bosh gets down in a defensive position and clogs Parker's driving lane.
Bosh then rotates back into the post to Duncan. Instead of trying to force the ball into the post, Parker resets the offense. The Spurs set another high screen for him and he drives past Ray Allen. Though stumbling, Parker regains enough control of the ball to make a pass. Bosh rotates to contain Parker's drive, blocks his passing lane and forces Parker into a turnover.
The feather in the cap of his defensive performance, though, was this game-sealing play. When the word "clutch" is used it's often affiliated with hitting a big shot when the pressure is at its highest point. Bosh made a clutch defensive play with 30 seconds left in Game 7 of the NBA Finals.
Down four with 27.9 seconds remaining, Ginobili inbounds the ball to Duncan and streaks to the rim. James falls behind the play but Bosh recognizes where the play is going and shifts towards the baseline to stop the play.
Ginobili tries to tiptoe on the baseline but Bosh crowds him and forces him away from the rim. Ginobili has no chance to take a shot. He tries to find Duncan but James has rotated in front of him. Ginobili throws the ball up and James grabs the interception.
Duncan is forced to foul James. James makes both free throws and pushes the Heat's lead to six.
Chris Bosh didn't have to score any points to make an impact in Game 7. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade handled the scoring for the "Big Three" and their role players stepped up. Bosh left his imprint on the Heat's back-to-back championship on the defensive side of the ball.