Chris Bosh admits to Game 3 jitters
BOSTON -- When the Miami Heat came on the floor 15 minutes before Game 3's tipoff Saturday night the arena was darkened and the seats at TD Garden were full. On the videoboard above, the Boston Celtics were shown outside their locker room jumping up and down as the theme from Rocky pulsed from the loud speakers.
It was intimidating and that was before anyone had even broken a sweat. Most arenas are rowdy in the playoffs and in Boston it's tradition.
My emotions got the best of me early on and it kind of dictated what I was doing for the rest of the game.” -- Chris Bosh
The intensity of that atmosphere got to Chris Bosh, something he admitted when looking back on his first road game in the second round. Bosh said nerves were a major factor in perhaps his worst game of the season, a six-point, five-rebound effort in 30 minutes in the Heat's 97-81 blowout loss.
"Given all the elements that were out there last night ... they were so hyped," Bosh said. "My emotions got the best of me early on and it kind of dictated what I was doing for the rest of the game."
In the first moments of the game, Bosh came off a standard pick-and-roll with Dwyane Wade and had an open mid-range jumper from the wing. Although this is a routine part of Miami's offense, Bosh hesitated and passed up the open jumper and tried to force the ball back to Wade.
Bosh's pass was off target and in traffic and went for a turnover. For Bosh, it was just downhill from there.
He was worked over by Kevin Garnett, who had 28 points and 18 rebounds, and was ineffective on the offensive end.
"I was not trusting my game," Bosh said. "The toughest thing to do in hostile environments is not just to trust your teammates but to trust yourself. Trust things you've been doing all your life."
Bosh's gameday started when he woke up with a sore neck. A few seconds into the game he was poked in the eye, causing him to thrash his head around like a cartoon character after a blow to the head. After winning praise in the first two games by outplaying Garnett, he never seemed like he had a chance in Game 3.
Bosh said he was going to try to get over it by attempting to relax going into Game 4 on Monday. Perhaps starting with a better pillow.
"There's a bunch of things I could've done better personally to affect the game more and get myself in rhythm," Bosh said. "Mistakes teach you more than anything else. Last night's game was a huge teacher."
Bosh is a valuable member of the Heat's offense as part of the team's Big 3 but has seemed out of sync during this series against Boston. Though he's done a good job rebounding the ball, averaging 9.3 per game, Bosh hasn't been able to get his shot going. He's just 9 for 26 (35 percent) after shooting 49 percent in the series with Philadelphia.
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Some of it is because Bosh has been playing more 1-on-1 basketball instead of the effective pick-and-roll sets the Heat used all season. The Celtics have been quite effective in knocking the Heat out of their favorite sets, several of them that feature Bosh working in his best spot at the elbow.
"We're not going to put him on an island by himself and expect him to score," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "The way we've been successful all year is executing our offense and a lot of that offense runs through Chris. We have to help him as well."
But the X's and O's were secondary in Bosh's poor performance in Game 3. It started with the moment being too much for him. He recognized the problem, now it's up to him to see if he can get over it.
"I wasn't relaxing and playing, I play better when I'm just relaxing," Bosh said. "I have to take the emotions out and play basketball."
Brian Windhorst covers the NBA for ESPN.com.
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