In crafting its roster last summer, the Heat hoped Greg Oden and Michael Beasley would provide an extra boost in its title defense.
Turns out, neither has been needed so far in the early stages of the playoffs.
Not only are both out of the rotation, but one is usually relegated to the Heat’s inactive list, alongside rookie Justin Hamilton.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra kept Beasley active ahead of Oden in the first and second games of this series because the Nets “are a very perimeter-oriented team.”
With the Nets playing a lot of smaller lineups, this series is not the ideal matchup for Oden, who played 212 minutes in 23 games this season, including six starts, and averaged 2.9 points and 2.3 rebounds.
Oden, who hasn’t appeared in a Heat playoff game, might earn minutes in an Eastern Conference finals matchup against Indiana’s Roy Hibbert or Washington’s Marcin Gortat, though he likely would play behind Udonis Haslem if he plays at all.
“He’s made incredible progress,” Spoelstra said. “Everybody needs to remember where he was the last four years. This is a big first step. We still have great confidence if we need him, he’ll be ready.”
Beasley finished 49th in the NBA this season, and third on the Heat, in points per 48 minutes at 25.2 but hasn’t been able to crack the rotation recently and admits that not playing can make him feel “down.” His two minutes in Game 1 of this series were his first of the playoffs.
“I keep reminding him: It can change just like that, where you’re in a suit and all of a sudden next game, you might be called on 13, 14 minutes,” Spoelstra said. “And he understands that. He’s continuing to wrap his mind around how this team was put together and how he can keep himself ready.”
This season, the Heat was outscored by 33 points when Oden was in the game and by 45 when Beasley was on the court. Only Haslem (minus 66) and Toney Douglas (minus 80) had worst plus/minuses for the Heat.
THIS AND THAT
• Norris Cole, who shot just 34 percent after the All-Star break, entered Game 2 shooting 53.8 percent from the field and 61.5 percent on three-pointers in these playoffs. Spoelstra said one reason he thrives in big moments is because “he’s a tough kid. It’s part of the fabric we liked about him.”
• Spoelstra, asked Thursday morning if this is the most consistent play he has seen from Mario Chalmers, cracked: “We’ll see how he plays [Thursday night]. I’m always cautious with Rio.”
• Spoelstra, on one reason Dwyane Wade has improved his post game: “Adapt or die.”
• Chris Andersen, who played despite a bruised shin, finished 11th in balloting for the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award. Andersen received two third-place votes and was one of 18 players who received votes. The Clippers’ Jamal Crawford won the award, with Chicago’s Taj Gibson second and the Spurs’ Manu Ginobili third.
• Heat president Pat Riley finished tied for fifth with Oklahoma City’s Sam Presti for NBA Executive of the Year honors after an offseason in which he re-signed Andersen, added Beasley and Oden and amnestied Mike Miller. San Antonio’s R.C. Buford won the award.
• Ray Allen hasn’t spoken to Kevin Garnett in the nearly two years that have passed since Allen left the Celtics and was noncommittal about whether that would change. “It’s nothing I’ve ever thought about,” Allen said.
• Nets center Jason Collins, the NBA’s only openly gay player, said Thursday he has spoken several times with former Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, who announced in February that he’s gay. Sam might be selected during the final day of the NFL Draft on Saturday.
“I’ve tried to make myself available to him,” Collins said. “Sam will be fine. It will be about sports and games once the wave of questions subsides. I wish him the best.”