There are unintended consequences in winning a championship with a certain formula. Sometimes a vital part of what gets a team to that pinnacle gets forgotten until its absence is sorely missed.
That is what Joel Anthony has been for the Miami Heat this season.
The Heat won the NBA championship last season against the Oklahoma City Thunder by making key adjustments in the match up. One of those adjustments was taking Anthony out of the regular rotation due to his lack of offense. As much as the Heat benefited from taking Anthony out it might have lulled the team into a false sense of security. Adding to this the Heat started the 2012-13 season Anthony was coming off an injury that sidelined him during training camp.
Then Anthony’s missing began to be felt.
The Heat’s lax effort on the defensive side of the court early on in the season showed a lack of energy and front court blocking. The team was also missing a great screen setter in offense. Those are the exact skills that Anthony brings on the court.
Slowly though, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra began bringing Anthony in games. First, it was simply as a move to add energy on the court. Now Anthony has been coming in more regularly in games and Miami is seeing the benefit as their defense has seen improvement recently.
Even as the defense has stepped up, Spoelstra has probably learned the lesson from seasons past and won’t consider starting Anthony as he has done before.
Anthony is still a liability on offense, but he is showing where his forte is. The Heat don’t mind at all.