WASHINGTON -- With the Heat in playoff mode, evidenced by its effort — or lack thereof — against the Washington Wizards, Erik Spoelstra will be looking to set his team’s postseason rotation as the first round quickly approaches.
Although the starting lineup seems all but set, forward Rashard Lewis and guard Toney Douglas have made a case to be contributors in May and June.
Douglas has seen more time on the court than most imagined after being acquired midseason in a trade that sent away Joel Anthony. Douglas has filled the Mike Miller role for the second half of the season, starting in place of Dwyane Wade during the All-Star guard’s numerous absences.
Wade played in his second game in a row Monday after missing the previous nine because of a hamstring injury. However, with LeBron James sitting, Douglas found himself in the starting lineup again and was a bright spot in an otherwise mess of a game.
“We expect him to help us,” Spoelstra said of Douglas’ potential playoff role. “We like what he brings, his defensive tenacity, the way he hawks the ball, his ability to alter entry passes.”
Douglas’ defense was particularly strong Monday, as he matched up with Wizards’ point guard John Wall. Wall was scoreless in the first half and finished with only four points. Douglas’ energetic defense could be an asset against strong point guards in the postseason.
He attributed his success on Wall to his attitude.
“My mind-set is I can guard every one in this league,” Douglas said. “You can’t teach it, you just have to have it. There are lots of good guards in this league, and I have respect for all of them. At the end of the day, I’m going to make them work.”
On the offensive end, Douglas chipped in by scoring 14 points in 35 minutes in addition to three assists. The Florida State product could provide a counterbalance to Norris Cole, whose offense has suffered in the last month of the season.
Lewis did not see much action Monday, which could be an even bigger indication that he’s part of Spoelstra’s playoff plans.
In his second year on the team, Lewis has come on strong late in the regular season, seemingly leapfrogging Shane Battier because of a more consistent stroke from three-point range.
Forward Michael Beasley played token minutes Monday in a homecoming game for him, but he has been largely left out of the rotation as the season has come to a close. Early in the year, Beasley provided some spark off the bench as an offensive sub.
Center Greg Oden, whose signing was heralded last summer, didn’t travel with the team to the nation’s capital because of a stomach virus. Oden hasn’t played since the team lost in Indiana on March 26, when he started to suffer from back spasms. He likely will go from starter to the end of the bench once the playoffs begin.