CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Heat won an NBA Finals last season with Shane Battier starting as an undersized power forward. The Heat won 27 games in a row this season with Udonis Haslem starting all but one of those games at power forward.
With those two appealing options available to him, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Friday he hasn’t begun to consider whether he will stick with his regular starting lineup when the Heat opens postseason play April 20 or 21.
“We’ll see. I don’t even know who we’re playing,” Spoelstra said. “I will not hesitate to make any decision at any time.”
Battier started the first 13 games of the season — Miami went 10-3 during that period — before missing three games with a knee injury. Rashard Lewis then started the next three games in Battier’s absence.
But when Battier returned Dec. 6 against the Knicks, Haslem moved permanently into the starting lineup and has missed only three games since.
Miami is 37-9 with Haslem starting alongside the other four regular starters. Conversely, Miami is 8-4 when Battier starts alongside LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Mario Chalmers.
Though Haslem enjoys starting, he said he would take no issue with coming off the bench in the playoffs if Spoelstra opts to return to the starting lineup he used during last year’s Finals.
“If Shane has to take over the starting job, so be it,” Haslem said. “I root for him and do what I have to do when I get in the game.”
Despite starting since early December, Haslem is averaging a career-low 18.8 minutes, down from 24.8 last season and 29 for his career. Battier is averaging 24.9 minutes.
“You buy into whatever it takes,” Haslem said. “The hardest part is not playing the whole second quarter. You play eight minutes in the first quarter, sit four minutes of the first quarter, sit the whole second quarter, sit the whole halftime and you’ve got to restart your motor going into the third quarter.”
Haslem’s averages in points and rebounds — 3.7 and 5.3 — are career lows because of his reduced minutes. But he entered Friday 11th among power forwards in rebounds per 48 minutes.
Haslem said it has been a difficult adjustment not playing late in close games. He has logged only 10 “clutch” minutes all season — defined by the NBA as the final five minutes of games with a margin of five points or fewer. But he played exceptional defense on Tim Duncan’s late miss in Sunday’s victory against San Antonio.
Gary Payton, who played the final two seasons of his 17-year career with the Heat, will be the first former Miami player inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, with a formal announcement expected Monday at the Final Four.
Former Heat guard Tim Hardaway was a finalist for induction but fell short, as did former Fort Lauderdale Boyd Anderson guard Mitch Richmond. Both will be eligible in future years. The Heat said Alonzo Mourning will be eligible for the first time next year.
• Whereas James (hamstring) and Wade (ankle) have missed games, Bosh said he feels healthy and doesn’t want to take time off, at least until the Heat clinches the league’s best record.
“I take on a different mind-set right about now,” Bosh said. “It’s more mind over matter. I can take a rest, maybe. But we still have a little more work to do. Once we lock up that No. 1 seed, that’s when we can start thinking about that a little more. Right now, I’m just trying to stay in shape, keep my game tight.”
• Miami Beach police continue to investigate Wednesday’s theft at Bosh’s home, in which $340,000 in cash, watches, rings and purses were stolen while Bosh and his wife attended his 29th birthday party.
“I’ve dealt with a lot of things emotionally — you would be surprised,” Bosh said Friday when asked how he was emotionally after the robbery. “This is just another bump in the road that me and my family will deal with and deal with it like we’re supposed to.”
• Charlotte coach Mike Dunlap said he periodically shows his players clips of how the Heat plays offense because “their spacing is the best in the NBA,” and he likes his players to watch Miami’s ball movement and how the Heat creates so many corner three-pointers.