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Heat’s Spoelstra says Greg Oden’s move to starting lineup may be permanent

Mar 18, 2014, 7:16 PM EDT

Chicago Bulls v Miami Heat Getty Images

Miami won two titles going small, playing “space and pace” basketball. (Tell me again how Mike D’Antoni’s system can’t win a title, because this is that with elite players who are better on defenders.)

However as this season has gone on the Heat have moved more and more toward a big lineup, with Chris Bosh at the four and Greg Oden or Chris Andersen at the five. It depends on the match-ups, but Eric Spoelstra has gravitated that way.

Spoelstra started Oden against the Rockets Sunday and that lineup is going to continue Tuesday night against the Cavaliers and maybe well beyond that, he told Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel.

“I’ve stressed that to our team, that last year’s blueprint was for last year,” Spoelstra said, “and the more we tried to pigeonhole ourselves into that blueprint, we might not be opening ourselves up to a more successful or necessary blueprint for this year, as the competition has changed. As it’s gotten better, our team, our personnel has gotten better. It always changes.”

There is also the matter of the Indiana Pacers and their large lineup looming in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Overall the Heat have been -6.7 points per 100 possessions when Oden is on the court this season and their offense takes a big hit, down 10 points per 100. However, with this Heat starting five — LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Mario Chalmers — they have allowed just 91 points per 100 possessions (although in a very small sample size of 33 minutes).

It also should be noted at the end of that Rockets game, when Miami went on a 15-0 run to come from behind and win — when they played like a title threat — the lineup was LeBron, Wade, Ray Allen, Norris Cole and Bosh. They went small and destroyed the Rockets team with the big lineup. That may still be the Heat’s end-of-game lineup. Or whatever is working that night.

  1. antistratfordian - Mar 18, 2014 at 7:19 PM

    I can dig it. Oden already has two blocks in four minutes in this game.

  2. stephenolszewski - Mar 18, 2014 at 7:27 PM

    Yeah but it’s the Cavs…

    • casualcommenter - Mar 18, 2014 at 9:19 PM

      Against the Cavs without Kyrie Irving…which isn’t exactly a playoff-caliber team.

  3. seattlesuperchronic - Mar 18, 2014 at 7:47 PM

    Go get em Greg. I hope this guy has a good rest of his career. Injury, alcoholism and depression are tough to deal with and he looks like he’s on the right path. I’m rooting for the old lookin young man.

    • gostlcards5 - Mar 19, 2014 at 12:06 AM

      I agree totally. He seems like a decent guy that has had some problems and made some bad decisions, but he’s owned up and worked to get back. As a Pacers fan, I’m clearly not rooting for the Heat, but I would hate to see this guy end up looking like a total bust.

      Keep at it, Greg. Best of luck and success to you.

    • daddyghi - Mar 19, 2014 at 1:15 AM

      you mean, LeBron’s dad

    • adoombray - Mar 19, 2014 at 2:02 PM

      Wait what? The only relevant part of that is the injury history, which was clear. I have not personally heard of any stories about his “alchoholism” or “depression” but seriously who are you to comment about those things in regards to a man you don’t know anyway? I think it’s disgusting that we turn athletes private lives into something we catch likes for on the internet. Whatever demons Oden has battled are irrelevant, except for the sports ones, and I think we as sports fans really need to start minding our own business. If someone randomly said “way to go, dude, good job on your success with your alchoholism” you’d be pissed off that your business was in the street like that.

  4. miamatt - Mar 18, 2014 at 7:51 PM

    This looks like Spoelstra’s final regular season experiment. We’ve seen Rashard Lewis and Beasley get their run, now it is Oden’s turn. Come playoffs, Spoelstra will know exactly what he has with each individual player and each specific lineup.

    If this looks promising, and with Birdman show he can play heavier minutes effectively this year, Miami can go “big” (their version of big, anyway) for 30-35 minutes a night of they so choose.

    • gofinsgoheatfloria - Mar 19, 2014 at 6:24 AM

      We may see one more experiment if Justin Hamilton is eligible to play in the playoffs (is he?). Hamilton is 7′ and 255 and did very well in the D league after some useful experience in Europe. He could have a role off the bench, but he might look awfully raw in the playoffs without some game work now.

      BTW AP’s story on last night’s game said that starting Oden will be a “drastic” change. I’m not sure about that. Spo said he is starting him simply to be sure he gets some minutes without having to mess with ongoing games, and I can’t see any reason to think there’s more to it than that. Now, if Oden starts playing starter’s minutes, that would be a drastic change – and a very interesting one.

    • spursareold - Mar 19, 2014 at 10:08 AM

      Greg Oden can’t play 30-35 minutes. Are you kidding? Both of his legs would fall off at the knees!

  5. tyler200829 - Mar 18, 2014 at 8:39 PM

    How can you compare the suns to this team? You said “with better on ball defenders”, no it’s because they play good team defense. And they can break into transition unlike any D’Antoni team.

    • bkbell3 - Mar 19, 2014 at 4:31 AM

      This writer is lost. Help me, so dantoni invented small ball and fast breaks and run and gun? So forget about westhead,don nelson, showtime, the ABA, etc. Dantoni doesn’t have a system, it’s just run up and take the first open 3 then run pick and roll and don’t play defense so you can get the ball back quicker.smh I’m also confused about his comment about the starting 5 ran just 33 min. together?

      • Kurt Helin - Mar 19, 2014 at 2:27 PM

        I in no way say D’Antoni invented it, but he brought it back into fashion and with the three-ball emphasis changed it for the modern game. Hey, both Spoelstra and Popovich said last year during the finals they borrowed heavily from what D’Antoni did in Phoenix. It’s not just my opinion you can win with what he does.

  6. vikesdynasty - Mar 18, 2014 at 8:57 PM

    Go get em Greg.

  7. casualcommenter - Mar 18, 2014 at 9:23 PM

    The author nailed it. The Heat are simply better without Oden on the court than they are with Oden at this point. The stats bear it out, and the eye test bears it out.

    He’s big, but he’s not a good basketball player at this point. The Heat’s flow on offense dies when he’s on the court because he’s not a threat to score, and Oden sends opposing players to the free throw line constantly.

    I’m rooting for him to make a comeback, but he’s not a guy who looks like he’ll be a huge positive for the Heat in the playoffs. He’ll matchup better against Roy Hibbert on defense, but on offense, Hibbert doesn’t have to worry about Oden at center the way he’d have to worry about Bosh at center.

  8. miamiheatles - Mar 18, 2014 at 9:32 PM

    When Greg gets his timing and rhythm, Oh Man. His injury prone days are behind him.

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