First there was LeBron James trying to dunk Paul Millsap through the court with about 18 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Then there was Ray Allen getting fouled in one of the “Ray corners” and swooshing three free throws to send the game into overtime — the ball never even nudged the rim.
Those are all things that you would come to expect from the usual suspects, but it was Michael Beasley who earned his keep by calmly stepping up to the line and knocking down two free throws with the Hawks up by one.
His impact was one of the highlights of Michael Wallace’s Heat Index:
“After missing the previous seven games with a strained hamstring, Beasley returned to action Monday against the Hawks and provided a huge boost in the third and fourth quarters. Beasleys aggressiveness on offense kept the Heat close during the limited moments LeBron needed rest. Gone are the days when Beasley’s place and value in the rotation were questioned.” (ESPN.com)
This makes me wonder why coach Erik Spoelstra would wait a half to insert Beasley into a game where the Heat was missing the scoring punch of Dwyane Wade.
For all of the genius moves that coach has pulled off — from convincing players to play out of position to accepting less court time — it makes no sense that we had to endure a first half lineup of Chris Andersen, Rashard Lewis, Roger Mason, Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole.
Now, that’s no knock against them, because they can all have their moments, but when you see the Heat go on an 11-5 run, as Beasley checks in, you start to believe that Ira Winderman was right about him still needing to show progress:
“And Erik Spoelstra said as much after Monday’s game, which is why this has been a slow-go from the outset. With the way Rashard Lewis has been playing, Michael has plenty of competition for his minutes, especially if Spoelstra is going to continue to experiment with Chris Andersen playing alongside Chris Bosh. But Michael had his defensive moments against Paul Millsap and that well could earn him another defensive challenge.” (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)
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