The Miami Heat are coming off of three consecutive losses to some pretty bad Eastern Conference teams. To put this losing streak in perspective, the Heat haven’t lost three games in a row since their first title winning season together almost two years ago. The one bright side to their third straight loss was the appearance of Greg Oden, who hadn’t played in an NBA regular season game since 2009. In his limited appearance, Oden scored six points and grabbed two rebounds. Although these numbers aren’t anywhere close to the potential the Heat see out of the 7-foot center, the fact that he was able to play those limited minutes and emerge without any significant swelling or pain is a huge step forward in terms of Oden’s rehabilitation.
The Heat signed Oden this summer to help defend against teams with larger frontcourts — something that typically gives the Heat’s defensive schemes fits. Oden won’t be playing any significant minutes until the playoffs if he is able to remain healthy, but the real question is what would his role look like throughout the playoffs?
Due to Oden’s limitations physically, his playing time will most likely not exceed 10-15 minutes a game, but that’s all the Heat will need. Since Chris Bosh typically plays the starting center position, placing Oden in the lineup with Bosh would allow him to slide back to the position he is most comfortable in which is power forward. A combination of Oden and Bosh in the frontcourt could be potentially devastating for any opponent the Heat would face in the playoffs because the combination of size on the glass from Oden and speedy, accurate mid-range shooting from Bosh would be hard to cover.
Bosh will most likely still be the starting center with the backup minutes being evenly distributed between Chris Andersen and Oden. Because of Oden’s tremendous shot blocking and altering abilities, expect Oden to be in the lineup down the stretch of close games. His role throughout the playoffs will be pivotal, make no mistake about it.