When the “Big Three” came together in the summer of 2010, the question was how would the Miami Heat fill out the rest of their roster. Pat Riley was correct in predicting that older veterans would take less money to come to Miami for a chance to win a title. They have been able to build on their bench each offseason to make their roster one of the deepest in all of the NBA. With veterans Ray Allen, Shane Battier, Rashard Lewis and Chris Anderson signed to cheap deals and striking gold by acquiring Point Guard Norris Cole in the 2011 Draft, the Heat have a bench that could rival anyone.
In addition to those players, they have defensive standout Joel Anthony, former No. 1 overall pick Greg Oden, former No. 2 overall pick Michael Beasley, former three-point shootout champion James Jones and veteran guard Roger Mason Jr. This allows them to mix and match throughout the season and come up with different combinations to give older players some games off.
In the first game against Chicago Bulls, the Heat bench scored 42 points and went a combined 8-for-13 from the three-point line. In game two when they were upset by Philadelphia 76ers, the bench produced well by scoring 42 points again, but shot a combined 5-for-22 from the three-point line, including a 0-for-7 from Battier. On Friday Night, the Heat lost to the Brooklyn Nets and once again the bench was inefficient. The bench scored only 22 points and forced the starters to play big minutes, including 42 from LeBron James. The point of having such a deep bench was to cut the minutes from LeBron and Dwyane Wade and allow them to rest up for the fourth quarter. With the backups struggling, LeBron had to play the entire second half just to keep the Heat close.
On Sunday, Miami did not make any adjustments to their rotation and once again they struggled even though they won. They were outscored by the Washington Wizards bench 27-24 and combined to go 8-for-21 from the field. Miami was able to get away with it because the Wizards are not a deep team that can challenge them for 48 minutes. The question remains, should they start giving Beasley some playing time?
Shane Battier has gone a combined 0-for-13 from the three-point line and 1-for-14 from the field in the last three games and has lost his confidence. While Battier is a great defensive player and one of the best hustle players in the league, Beasley brings more of an offensive game. Beasley is a better shooter, ball-handler, rebounder and athlete than Battier is. He also has the ability to play both Forward positions and could provide a spark off the bench that the Heat has been missing.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra should have gone to Beasley Sunday Night against a depleted Wizards frontcourt. The Wizards were missing Nene Hilario and Otto Porter Jr., two players that could have given Beasley trouble on defense. This would have been the perfect time to get him some playing time alongside Wade and James and give Battier a much needed day off. With Wade’s history of injuries, Beasley will be needed at some point to contribute and they should start getting him involved now. If Battier struggles early in the next game, they should bring in Beasley and see if he can give them quality minutes.