Even with the slight hiccup this team endured, losing three games early in the season, the defending champs have now won four straight and seven of their last eight games. A large part of this success has to be attributed to the high-quality role players the Heat have on deck.
Last night’s game against the Atlanta Hawks is a perfect example of just how deep this team truly is. On a night when Dwyane Wade was sitting on the sidelines resting his knees and multiple players from the starting lineup were returning from injury and suspensions, the bench came through on multiple occasions to provide both the offensive and defensive firepower the Heat needed for the win.
Even with the Heat playing their sixth different lineup in the last 11 games, it didn’t matter. LeBron James only scored 13 points? Didn’t even make a difference. The bench even had enough firepower to give both James and Chris Bosh extensive rest during the fourth quarter, a time when the losing team typically makes one last hard push. Depth means everything, and head coach Erik Spoelstra knows it:
“The depth is important,” Spoelstra told Michael Wallace of ESPN. “As long as it’s the right fit out there and guys are committed to getting off to a good start — our guys are comfortable out there. They’re gaining confidence. We need it.”
Developing this kind of confidence amongst the role players this early in the season can only be seen as a positive. Eventually, the starting lineup will need to play heavier minutes towards the latter end of the season in order to prepare for the playoffs, but until then, even players on the extreme end of the bench like Roger Mason Jr. will see plenty of court time.
All this is done to build chemistry and cohesion on the court as an entire team. The Heat will need plenty of that if they plan on winning their third straight championship.