AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Udonis Haslem is making a strong case for himself as the playoffs approach.
The Heat co-captain, emotional leader and three-time championship center started Friday against the Detroit Pistons in place of Greg Oden and went 6 of 6 from the field to begin the game. Haslem replaced Oden in the starting lineup in the second half of the Heat’s loss to the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday.
Two days after losing to the Pacers, the Heat rested three regular starters — point guard Mario Chalmers, shooting guard Dwyane Wade and Oden — and ran out its 19th different starting lineup of the season. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra penciled in Toney Douglas, James Jones, LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Haslem before the game. It was Jones’ first action since Jan. 17 and his first start since Dec. 3.
With 12 games remaining in the regular season and the Heat trailing the Pacers by three games entering the weekend, there was a sense in the Heat’s locker room that getting healthy before the postseason was more important at this point than chasing the No.1 seed.
“For us, it’s more about getting healthy,” James said. “Obviously, we would love to play this season out, and get the No.1 seed if that happens, but our concern is being healthy, and we haven’t been healthy all year.”
Wade missed his 20th game of the season after subbing out of Wednesday’s loss to the Pacers with a hamstring injury. Wade called himself day-to-day before the game, and indicated that he also will miss Saturday’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks.
“I’ve had one before,” Wade said of his hamstring strain. “I missed the whole preseason and started the season a little slow. Obviously, it’s not at that [severity]. When I feel no pain in it, I’ll be back out on the court.
“I tried it today and still felt pain in it. I can’t even say I don’t want to push it, because I can’t yet.”
Oden rested a strained back against the Pistons and Chalmers was out with a thigh bruise. Ray Allen missed his second straight game due to illness. He did not travel with the Heat to Indianapolis or Detroit and isn’t expected to join the team in Milwaukee on Saturday.
The Heat’s coaching staff addressed the balance between attacking turnovers and careless turnovers during Friday’s walkthrough. In Wednesday’s loss to the Pacers, Miami turned to ball over 19 times for 26 points. The Heat is ranked 17th in the NBA in turnovers per game (14.9).
“We are an attack team, and when we have attack turnovers we can live with those,” James said.
“But it’s the careless ones that get us in trouble. There’s a balance, and we have to understand that. But we’ve been a pretty good team being able to protect the ball.”
The Heat honored Shane Battier’s roots Friday with a morning shootaround at Detroit Country Day High School in Beverly Hills, Mich. Battier attended the school and shared several of his fond memories after the team’s walkthrough.
“LeBron is cool and all, but this is one place where I have more pull,” he said.
Bad Boys honored
The Pistons honored the 25th anniversary of their 1989 championship at halftime. Most of the “Bad Boys” were in attendance, including Isiah Thomas. Dennis Rodman was not at the ceremony. Who would win a series between the “Bad Boys” and the current defending back-to-back NBA champion Miami Heat?
“Obviously, I’m not going to take them over us, but it all depends on what type of style they let us play,” James said. “If we played ’89-style of basketball I think there would be some fights, and there would be a lot of things that happened. If we play the 2014 kind of basketball, they wouldn’t be able to play their game. It all depends. It’s a different era.”
Wade was a little more definitive with his prediction. Going by the physical style of play in late 1980s NBA, Wade said, “it would be a little different.”
“If we’re going by their rules, they’d win,” Wade said. “If we’re going by our rules, we’ll win.”
Battier grew up in the Detroit area during the Bad Boys heyday and said some of his fondest memories as a child was watching those old Pistons’ teams with his father and brothers.
John Salley and James Edwards were his favorite players.
“The unstoppable fadeaway of James “Buddha” Edwards and the sweetest mustache in the league,” Battier said. “My ‘Buddha’ mustache pales in comparison to the original ‘Buddha Train’ mustache.”