Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – When Miami Heat president Pat Riley put together his own version of the Dream Team, it featured not just the Big Three, but also two other key players, Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem.
But, injuries plagued both Miller and Haslem last season and the world really never got a look at what Riley truly envisioned for the Heat.
This season though, Miller and Haslem have both been playing more minutes and the NBA should be worried at what they are seeing.
When the Big Five are on the floor, Haslem, Miller, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh; the Heat go from great to flat-out deadly.
Case in point, during Tuesday night’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami was struggling to put away the Cavs.
Once the Big Five got into the lineup near the end, they went on a 15-9 tear that sealed the game for the Heat.
Over the last three games, the Big Five have outscored opponents 40-18, according to ESPN.com.
If you stretch it back to last season, when the Big Five are on the court, they outscore opponents 109-68.
Remember too that Miller is still getting his feet back under him after missing a few weeks to start the season while recovering from groin surgery.
“It’s not something we’re going to run throughout the game,” LeBron told ESPN.com. “But in the fourth quarter, when it is time to close out the game, it is a lineup that really gives us some unique things, especially defensively. Coach is getting more and more comfortable with doing that.”
Part of the problem opponents face is that in a traditional pick-and-roll play, the Heat can easily switch off with the Big Five on the floor and not miss a beat defensively.
Not many teams can deal with the Heat having a 6’8”, 260 pound point guard in LeBron James distributing the ball.
Combine LeBron at the point with four legitimate offensive options and the Heat are making opponents pick their poison.
Opposing coaches will eventually catch-up with the Heat’s Big Five lineup. But until then, the Heat’s Big Five will continue to close out the game.
The Heat will need them to play even better in the coming days. The Heat plays six road games over the next 10 days, including a back-to-back-to-back series.
Every Heat player will have to bring it each night in order for the Heat to come home with a winning record.
Powered by the Big Five, or dare we say, the Fab Five, the Heat continue to look like the team to beat in both the Eastern Conference and the NBA.