"When the playoffs actually happen, people don't know, but you do some soul-searching," Bosh says. "It's a spiritual experience when you're down. I don't care who you are. Every team that wins it, you're going to have a moment when you're like, 'Man, I don't know. I don't think I can overcome this.' It happens every time. And you have no choice. You can listen to it, or not listen to it. You said you wanted it? Boom -- take this."
In Bosh's eyes, the low point of this season came in late March, when the Heat lost by double digits to the New Orleans Pelicans during a road-heavy stretch of the schedule. The Heat gave a listless effort and allowed 105 points to a team that ultimately lost 48 games. It was the team's seventh loss in 11 games and Wade was a last-minute scratch.
Afterward, some heated words were exchanged in the locker room. Bosh, normally the quiet one, unleashed a fiery tirade that teammates say ended all discussion.
"CB knows when to talk, and it's not often," Spoelstra says. "He knows when to push the button."
"I'm a firm believer in giving you the rope and you hang yourself with it," Bosh says. "It got to the point where we were complaining, like, 'Man, it's so hard, so hard playing the way we play.'"
Playing small and losing Wade for 28 games caused internal friction, and frustrations started to mount at the tail end of the regular season. The Heat finished outside the top 10 in defensive efficiency for the first time since 2010. Doubt crept in whether the switch even existed.
"You think this was going to be easy?" Bosh says. "What, they're just going to hand us a championship? That's not going to happen. Of course that's not going to happen. We forgot. We probably shouldn't even say we're back-to-back champs. Would we feel different about it, would we have a different hunger if Kawhi Leonard makes a free throw? If Manu [Ginobili] boxes me out?"
Bosh is a man of science, a devotee of the TV show "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey," and finds comfort in logic and order. But he also appreciates that fortune can be fickle.
"We're talking about a lifetime of habit-building coming down to one play," he says. "Are we going to be that team this year that misses a boxout? We want to be like those guys? No offense to them -- great team, best team I've ever played against -- but they came up short. You could easily say the same about us. That's not going to be me."