Erik Spoelstra was forced into using his 19th different starting lineup this season as his Miami Heat team took to the Palace of Auburn Hills to face the Detroit Pistons.
Mario Chalmers (quad), Ray Allen (flu), Greg Oden (back) and Dwyane Wade (hamstring) were all out in what turned out to be an easy win in the end as the rest of the crew stepped up and cruised past the Pistons in a 110-78 win. And while Allen, Chalmers and Oden missing isn’t really that big a deal because they all seem like minor knocks, the same can’t be said for Wade.
All season long Spoelstra has gone above and beyond to keep his star shooting guard healthy, such as leaving him out of back-to-back games or whenever an “easy” game comes by. All in the hopes of making sure he is good and ready come playoff time. However all his measures have seemingly been for naught because Wade has missed 20 games this season and his health is still an issue with the post season kicking off in mid-April.
LeBron James has already spoken on the matter earlier this season, saying: “With so many of the guys being in and out, and the concern with D-Wade, it’s been tough on all of us. We’ve got to go in with the mindset sometimes that he’s not playing, as opposed to: ‘Is he playing?’
“If we can guys on the floor and get that camaraderie right, then I think that’s the most important thing.”
King James once again vented his concern/frustration by saying: “At this point, there’s going to be someone out every night.”
As of right now, Wade has listed himself as day-to-day but it’s almost inevitable he’ll have another injury before the season is done. The good thing for the Heat though is that they have consummate pros like Udonis Haslem and Rashard Lewis who are always ready just in case their number is called.
U.D. for example had only been used sparingly in recent months but he stepped in and neutralized Roy Hibbert in the 84-83 loss to the Indiana Pacers. Lewis also found himself in the lineup and lent a hand for 24minutes despite not being involved in 10 straight games.
However the man who is the epitome of the term “staying ready” and would be direct replacement for Wade is James Jones.
The 11th year man saw DNPs next to his name in 32 consecutive games and hasn’t reached double-digits in minutes since Miami’s first game against Detroit on Dec. 3. Yet he still managed to have an impact when he was handed the starting role on Friday night as he hit three out of six shots from deep on his way to 10 points and only his second double-digit game this season.
It’s all well and good having these guys ready to step in at a moment’s notice but on the grand scheme of things, constantly having to change the line-ups will no doubt affect the chemistry of the team. At least guys like Chris Andersen and Norris Cole have enjoyed the luxury of knowing their role night in and night out, though not a lot of the other Miami Heat players can say the same.