NEW YORK -- Rarely does Chris Bosh feel like a true NBA center on the basketball court.
At 6-foot-11 and 235 pounds, he will always be considered a big man with a perimeter-oriented game. Bosh is among the new breed of the versatile and sleek at the position.
So Bosh, the Miami Heat's center, is cherishing every bit of this series against the Brooklyn Nets.
In a matchup of undersized lineups, he is feeling every bit of Shaquille O'Neal, David Robinson and Patrick Ewing.
"You have to learn to enjoy this," Bosh said. "Usually, you've been fighting with dudes who are 300 pounds, 280 pounds and looking to post up every single (trip) down the floor."
For Bosh, it has been somewhat of a breather after battling centers throughout the regular season. The Nets have tried to match the Heat's "small ball" approach in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Thus far, it has failed, with Miami holding a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 series entering Saturday's Game 3 at Barclays Center.
The only thing standing in the way of Bosh has been an aging Kevin Garnett and Nets coach Jason Kidd's unorthodox combinations. At one point in Game 2, both teams had no players taller than 6-10 in the game.
Not one center on the court.
The lack of bulk in the series has allowed Bosh to flourish more on the interior. Through two games, he's yet to draw criticism for being too passive. No complaints of rebounding. No calls for more blocked shots. No jeers for not playing in the post enough.
Bosh has played like a center in every way.
"I just want to be out there and play," Bosh said. "Whether it's as a "C" (center) or an "F" (forward), I just go out there to do my job. When I'm at center, my job is to protect the rim, give my teammates a voice on the backside defense and contest everything at the rim and make it tough on them."
Bosh is averaging 16.5 points in the series, but it's his other statistical numbers that stand out. He's grabbing 8.5 rebounds, including 11 in Game 1 and blocked three shots in Game 2. The highlight was a swat in the closing seconds of Nets guard Deron Williams, keeping him scoreless.
"He's at the top of our activity chart," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "He does it every single night. In this series, it's important with so many wing players. He's really our linebacker that sees everything before it happens. He was able to finish a lot of possessions off with the rebounds."
Bosh has clearly outplayed counterpart Garnett, his once idol. Bosh patterned his game after the 2004 MVP and once considered Garnett his toughest cover in the league.
Garnett has been a shell of himself in the series so far, scoring four points on 2-of-10 shooting.
"It's a bit of relief, father time," Bosh said of facing the declining Garnett. "With that said, I still expect him to have one of those games. I still have my guard up. I never let it down. He's one of those guys, you never know what he has left in the tank and he's not going to tell you. I'm going to continue to prepare like I'm preparing for Kevin Garnett."
The challenge for Bosh is not getting too comfortable. If the Heat can close out the Nets, things return back to the normal in the next round regardless of the opponent. He will either match against Washington Wizards center Marcin Gortat or the Indiana Pacers' Roy Hibbert.
Last year Hibbert dominated Bosh in the conference finals. Gortat averaged 12.7 points and 12.7 rebounds versus the Heat in four regular-season games.
"You get used to it," Bosh said. "You come out there and we've been playing so many games against them. When you get your opponent, it's like, 'All right.' I know his moves, both of their moves. It doesn't matter who we're playing. I've seen quite a bit."
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