CLEVELAND (CBSMiami) – Thanks to his hard work and team needs, seven-footer Greg Oden may have played his way into the starting lineup for the Miami Heat for the rest of the season, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
If Oden does start for Miami, it will be a departure from the small ball style that Spoelstra utilized to perfection last season. But, with the Heat possibly facing some of the game’s top centers in the playoffs including Roy Hibbert, Tim Duncan, and Dwight Howard, getting Oden acclimated to starting will be key.
When Oden has been on the court, the Heat has struggled unless he’s been flanked by power forward Chris Bosh. By getting Oden into the starting lineup, it allows Bosh to extend post defenders out to the three-point line and thus opens up more lanes for LeBron James and others to attack the basket.
“We’ve actually worked on Greg’s spacing quite a bit,” Spoelstra told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “And there’s some elements, because of his size, that he adds to our spacing, in a different way that we haven’t had before. When you have a big body like that under the paint, you can’t take a body off of him. It’s the old Shaq effect.”
Still, getting Oden in rhythm on the offensive end will be key to how successful the experiment of putting Oden into the starting lineup will ultimately become. Plus, Oden is not playing in back-to-back games to rest his knees.
Bringing Oden along slowly and limiting his minutes has been part of the Heat’s plan all season long with a focus being on getting him ready for the playoffs. If Oden can continue to improve, the sky is the limit for both him and the Heat.