Over the last few seasons, we have seen some NBA teams move away from the traditional two guards, two forwards and a center mentality to a more modern approach. The ones who should be given credit for this are Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra. The emergence of a small, quicker lineup moved quickly through the league. The fast-paced, high-flying atmosphere that came along with the smaller squad took audiences and fans by storm, but as soon as it grabbed the Association by its hair the new trend began to let go.
The Miami Heat have fallen in love with the smaller starting five, using it to win two consecutive titles. However, the lack of height and size nearly cost them the championship last year. The frontcourts of teams like the Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs nearly proved to be too much for Miami’s apparently incompetent big men.
This season, we have seen many of the same issues continue to haunt the Heat. They continue to be bogged down at the bottom of the list in rebounding, and the lack of a post presence has come back to bite them in a few games. With the huge threat from Roy Hibbert and David West of the Pacers, Miami has worked diligently to find an answer. Chris Andersen has emerged as a solid role player for the Heat, and Rashard Lewis has seen an increase in his minutes thanks to his improved health. Then there is the “feel-good” story of Greg Oden. The 7-footer has finally made his regular season debut with the defending champs and played in his first game in four years. The Heat hope that he will make a difference down the stretch.
With the new stockpile of big men on the roster, it appears that Spoelstra might be slowly shifting his approach to a bigger lineup. It is more than likely that the East will come down to Miami and Indiana, so Spoelstra must have an inside game to combat the Pacers’ twin towers. We have seen both Lewis and Andersen in the starting lineup this season, and now with Oden active you can’t help but dream about Chris Bosh and him starting alongside one another.
I think there is a change in the philosophy of Spoelstra, and he will continue the gradual shift back to the traditional style. Of course, much of it will depend upon Oden’s health and Miami’s opponents, but with great pressure to win a third straight championship, Spoelstra will attempt to fix the frontcourt issues plagued the Heat’s postseason last year.