To open practice Wednesday, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra called his starters onto the floor and was greeted with a pleasant surprise.
Out stepped Chris Bosh.
And that's when Game 2 of The Finals took a turn.
“I said, ‘OK, get the Red Team out here and let's walk through a couple of things,'” Spoelstra said of what could have been just an innocent moment to begin the workout.
“And Chris walked right out and put his head under the rim. And so that told me what we were doing in terms of starting him. And he gave us a lot in the paint. And we need that, again and again and again.”
Bosh, making his first start since May 13, struck for his first double-double since mid-April, finishing with 16 points and 15 rebounds and significantly impacting play in the lane, helping Miami flip Oklahoma City's Game 1 dominance inside.
Much of the talk for the Heat following the Thunder's win in the series opener Tuesday centered around the need for help for LeBron James. Well, he got it. And not just from Bosh, but from Dwyane Wade and Shane Battier — yes, him again — and even guys like Norris Cole and James Jones off the bench.
James won Round 2 of his touted matchup with Kevin Durant, scoring a team-high 32 points with eight rebounds and five assists. His aggressive play set a tone for the night. And when Oklahoma City made a run, he was typically there to eventually turn it back.
But he was hardly alone.
And suddenly, that notion that while the Thunder may not match the star power of the Heat, its the better “team,” well that theory took some hits Thursday night, when Miami squared the series at 1-1 by getting more guys better involved.
“To be honest, I don't really pay attention to speculation or what other people say,” said Cole, who after not playing Tuesday gave the Heat 13-plus solid minutes. “We know how hard we work and we know what we are capable of doing. We all trust each other. The game speaks for itself.
“A lot of people think scoring points and doing things in the stat sheet is what makes you good. On a team like ours, you don't have to do things that always affect the stat sheet, making hustle plays and bringing energy can positively affect the team and our bench understands that.”
Bosh impacted the game in every way.
After missing nine games with an abdominal injury, then returning in a reserve role, Bosh's role on the team had fallen under question with the Heat playing well while riding James and Wade successfully into the Finals.
Tuesday's game — when the Thunder outscored Miami on the run and in the paint — adjusted those thoughts, with most analysts crying for more Bosh.
Maybe he heard them.
“Well, it's just one of those things where you know it's time,” Bosh said. “Sometimes, it's just one of those things you can feel.”
Bosh played big from the start, helping the Heat romp to a big early lead. He had his double-double by halftime. He tied his career playoff high with the 15 rebounds and his eight offensive boards were just two fewer than the Thunder team total.
Bosh said he finds a different comfort in starting. The entire Heat team looked more comfortable with him back in that role.
“It was key, you know, having our best players on the floor early,” Wade said, “especially when we needed to start off great. We needed to play well from the beginning. So Chris came out just like the rest of us — very aggressive — and that spreads the floor.”
So does Battier, who matched his surprising Tuesday night scoring production with 17 points. Udonis Haslem provided some toughness and four boards off the bench, while Cole and James Jones played valuable minutes that allowed the starters to get a blow, after they looked spent in the fourth quarter of the opener when Spoelstra tightened his rotation.
Best of all for the Heat, Bosh was back — all the way back.
“It was a big game for us and I kind of put it in my mind that I knew that I had to really give the effort that I had been giving before, whether I was ready of not,” Bosh said. “So today was a good time to really see where I'm at.
“Fortunately, things went well for us. It went well for me individually and we did what we were supposed to do.”