During the offseason, Miami signed center Greg Oden to sure up the frontcourt. The thought was Oden would be used to help handle the size of the Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls in the East and the San Antonio Spurs in the West. Even though Miami beat all three of these teams last season to win an NBA title, the rebounding edge that the Spurs and Pacers had almost got them past Miami.
So far this season, Oden has yet to play a game and probably won’t until after the All-Star break. However, a less talked about free-agent, Michael Beasley, has received regular playing time over the past month and has established himself to be a member of the Heat rotation.
Last year in the Eastern Conference Finals, Miami was unable to force Indiana to switch their lineup to adjust to the small-ball Miami plays. Shane Battier was unable to hit an outside shot, which allowed David West and Roy Hibbert to pack in the paint on defense. Battier, who is a natural Small Forward, also could not keep West outside of the paint and off of the boards which forced Miami to turn to Udonis Haslem. He also couldn’t hit an outside shot and force the Pacers bigs to leave the basket area. Indiana put Hibbert on Haslem and West on Bosh which allowed Hibbert to stay close to the rim and deter LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
Enter Beasley, the guy whose career was in jeopardy after being cut by the Phoenix Suns. He is averaging 11.4 points and four rebounds in only 17.6 minutes per game. He is also shooting 55 percent from the field and 50 percent from the three-point line. Beasley has yet to start a game, but lately he has been part of the group on the floor finishing it.
With Beasley able to hit outside shots and put the ball on the floor, neither West or Hibbert will be allowed to back away from him and stay near the basket. With both Beasley and Bosh on the floor, you have two big men who shoot from the outside and are also decent enough rebounders to keep the numbers close. A lineup of Mario Chalmers, Wade, James, Beasley and Bosh will give Miami the best chance to win this game and will likely be the lineup used to close out the game. In a game filled with All Stars and champions, Beasley is the difference maker in the game.