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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Heat knocked out the Chicago Bulls Sunday afternoon at the AmericanAirlines Arena, but the focus wasn’t as much as the game as the lineup that head coach Erik Spoelstra put on the court.
NBA MVP LeBron James was unable to play Sunday after having his nose broken by Oklahoma City Thunder center Serge Ibaka. James was driving to the basket against the Thunder and when he elevated for a dunk, Ibaka’s arm smashed across LeBron’s nose and left it a bloody mess.
So with James out of the lineup, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra inserted center Greg Oden into the starting lineup. It was Oden’s first start as a member of the Heat and his first start in an NBA game in four years.
While Oden only played 12:49 in the game, it allowed Spoelstra to keep most of his rotation the same against the Bulls on Sunday.
Oden finished the game with five points and five rebounds in his nearly 13 minutes of play. He’s continuing to very slowly increase his minutes and if he stays healthy, could be a huge cog in the Heat winning a third straight championship.
Also in the absence of James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade picked up the slack. Bosh has been playing extremely well in recent weeks and torched the Bulls for 28 points and 10 rebounds while Wade showed off his old form going for 23 points, pulling down 10 rebounds, and handing out 7 assists in the game.
The Heat is off until Thursday when they will continue a four-game home stand against New York. After the home stand, Miami hits the road for three tough games at Houston, San Antonio, and Chicago.
James should return to the lineup by Thursday, but will likely be wearing a faceguard while playing.