Fresh off the Miami Heat's worst offensive performance of the 2012-13 season, Heat center Chris Bosh had some harsh words for the performance of his team this season. According to Bosh, the Heat's Eastern Conference-leading 23-10 record is a mirage.
"If we think we're going to win a playoff series in the first round, second round, third round, we're kidding ourselves," Bosh told The Miami Herald.
On Tuesday night, Indiana outrebounded the Heat 55-36 en route to a 87-77 win.
"We are not good enough to be where we want to be. We're lucky to be first in the East," he added. "We're kidding ourselves if we think this is good enough."
Bosh also questioned the Heat's defensive strategy, saying the team should consider a return to the slow, plodding half-court strategy that led the Heat to a 28-13 road record in 2010-11, the first year of the Big Three era.
"We were a half-court team that pounded you on the glass and executed the offense," he explained, "and if LeBron and Dwyane had opportunities in the open court after we get a stop, they will push it down your throat."
"That style was working for us pretty good. If you look at our weaknesses right now, it's defense and rebounding."
The Heat have been exploring ways to improve on defense and rebounding through personnel. The team worked out free agent center Chris Andersen on Tuesday, and signed forward Jarvis Varnado to a 10-day contract on Wednesday. Both have reputations as tenacious defenders.
But Bosh's comments suggest that the team could get better simply by reassessing its strategy. Miami has switched to a more "position-less" philosophy, which uses Bosh (normally a power forward) at center and LeBron James (normally a small forward) at power forward.
The strategy has helped make Miami one of the most explosive offensive teams in the NBA (increasing its points per 100 possessions to 110.8 from 106.6 last season), but at the expense of its defense (Miami gave up 100.2 points per 100 possessions last season, and is giving up 105.6 this season).
"We get placed in a system and we try to play to the system to the best of our abilities," Bosh said. "Some days, it's good. Some days, it's bad. Most days it has been bad for us on the boards. I don't think it's about effort. We're trying our best."
Bosh is pretty clearly sending a message to the coaching staff, who have mentioned the need for high effort after losses this season. But it bears noting that a bad rebounding differential does not necessarily preclude the Heat from winning. On Dec. 18, Minnesota outrebounded the Heat 53-24, but Miami still won by 9 points.
It is clear that the Heat are not done tinkering with their personnel or strategy (coach Erik Spoelstra recently inserted rebounding specialist Udonis Haslem into the starting lineup). With more than half the regular season left, there is plenty of time for Miami to fix its rebounding problem.