The Miami Heat are becoming accustomed to being shorthanded when they start games. Shooting guard Dwyane Wade usually sits out one game in a back-to-back and has been rested frequently if he can’t go through a full practice. Reserves like Ray Allen, Chris Andersen and Michael Beasley have all missed time recently with various ailments. On Saturday night, they were without LeBron James for the first time this season and beat the Portland Trail Blazers on the road.
One thing that hasn’t been happening is injuries during games. Usually they are able to game plan ahead of time because they know who is going to be playing and who isn’t. On Monday night against the Denver Nuggets, Miami came into the game with only Chris Andersen and Greg Oden being inactive. Oden hasn’t played in a game this year and Andersen is still banged up from the Christmas Day game.
During the second quarter, Wade hurt his back after being fouled by Jordan Hamilton and left the game early in the third quarter. Backup point guard Norris Cole landed on his face in the third quarter and had to be helped back to the locker room. Because he was unable to shoot his free throws, Denver opted to have Joel Anthony shoot them and Cole was not allowed to return.
Having to adjust his rotation on the fly, Erik Spoelstra used more of Allen and Michael Beasley in the second half to secure the win for Miami. The two reserves combined to play 50 minutes and went 8-for-13 from the field and 3-for-5 from three-point land. Allen scored 13 and Beasley scored nine, but the two of them scored the final six points for Miami.
Beasley sealed the victory with Miami up by one point and only 30 seconds remaining when he hit a three from the top of the key to give Miami a two possession win and force Denver into panic mode. Allen sank a free throw, which was the final point of the game in a 97-94 victory to close out a four-game West Coast road trip for Miami.
With Miami being one of the older teams in the NBA, these reserves are the key to them staying fresh and being healthy going into the postseason. If Beasley and Allen continue to play the way they did tonight, Miami will be able to rest Wade and James more often and still continue to win games.