Heat

Miami Heat’s Michael Beasley carves out a significant role

 

Michael Beasley, who was signed to a nonguaranteed contract before the season, has emerged as Erik Spoelstra’s latest ‘glue guy.’

 
Toronto Raptors' DeMar DeRozan (10) goes to the net against Miami Heat's Mario Chalmers, left, and Michael Beasley, right, during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Toronto, Friday, Nov. 29, 2013.
Toronto Raptors' DeMar DeRozan (10) goes to the net against Miami Heat's Mario Chalmers, left, and Michael Beasley, right, during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Toronto, Friday, Nov. 29, 2013.
Mark Blinch / AP

Bobcats at Heat

When/Where: 6 p.m., AmericanAirlines Arena.

TV/Radio: Sun Sports/AM 790, FM 104.3 and AM 710 (Spanish).

Series: Heat leads 26-10.

Outlook: The Heat has won nine games in a row and defeated the Bobcats 97-81 early in the winning streak. LeBron James (lower back) aggravated an earlier injury Friday in Toronto and is questionable. If James sits against the Bobcats, which is unlikely, Udonis Haslem could be moved back into the starting lineup, although coach Erik Spoelstra has plenty of options. Eleven players scored for the Heat against the Raptors.


jgoodman@MiamiHerald.com

The most interesting stretch of basketball of the Heat’s first month of the season happened in the closing minutes of the last quarter of the final game.

After watching his team blow a 20-point lead Friday to the Raptors, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra inserted Michael Beasley into a close game in crunch time for his defense.

Beasley scored 11 points in the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday, but on Friday didn’t take a single shot in the final five minutes against the Raptors. Instead, Beasley subbed in and secured two defensive rebounds while in support of fellow closer LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Mario Chalmers.

With Beasley playing the role of defensive stopper, the Raptors scored four points in the final minutes of the game, and the Heat got out of Toronto with a victory despite scoring just 33 points in the second half and 12 points in the fourth quarter.

“He can have a significant role for us,” Spoelstra said on Friday, offering publicly his strongest show of support for Beasley since he was signed this summer. “That role may be limited minutes, but it can be a significant role. It could be bigger minutes. We have a whole season to figure that out.”

Based on Beasley’s inconsistent minutes, it’s clear Spoelstra still hasn’t figured out exactly how to fit the versatile forward into the rotation, but the most important thing for the Heat is that the Beasley experiment is working. James had one of the most efficient months of his career to begin the season and the Heat can improve its winning streak to 10 games Sunday, but the biggest development of November for the back-to-back champs was the emergence of Beasley.

“He probably would have more minutes, more opportunities, more shots on another team,” Spoelstra said. “That’s not the case here. Sometimes he’s our 10th man, so when he comes in, it’s too provide energy, to defend, to rebound.

“He has been rebounding very well — much like he did when he came into this league. What people expected out of him. The skill of scoring now is coming more within the context of what we do. As long as he keeps in embracing the work, I think he’ll see bigger and more consistent strides.”

So, this is the new Beasley, apparently. He has done a little bit of everything for the Heat since breaking into the lineup full-time seven games into the season and on Sunday he might play still a different role. James aggravated his lower back against the Raptors, and if he sits out against the Bobcats it’s conceivable Beasley could be plugged into he starting lineup.

Beasley is the Heat’s latest “glue guy.” Who knew?

It’s a small sample size, but Beasley is playing just as good if not better in his second stint with the Heat than perhaps he ever did in his first few seasons with the team. And the most dumbfounding thing of all, of course, is that the Phoenix Suns are essentially sponsoring Beasley’s resurrection.

The Heat dumped Beasley for next to nothing to make room for James and Bosh, and now Beasley is back and playing for a nonguaranteed contract at the veteran’s minimum. Meanwhile, the Suns are paying Beasley $7 million.

Ever season since 2011, the Heat has improved its depth beyond its starters and Beasley has added yet another valuable set of skills to the mix. He is averaging 19.3 points and 7.1 rebounds per 36 minutes, according to basketball-reference.com.

“Michael has an unlimited skill set. He really does,” Spoelstra said. “He can score and find the basket virtually from anywhere on the court. Our system now is different. Obviously our personnel is different than when we had him the first two years, but in terms of the routine and the structure and the work ethic, it’s identical. So, he has embraced that work every single day. He is more experienced now and he is embracing the opportunities that he gets.”

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