Heat coach Erik Spoelstra used his third different starting lineup in four games in the Eastern Conference finals, amid the absence of key reserve center Chris Andersen.
With Andersen missing Game 4 with a left thigh bruise, Spoelstra moved forward Rashard Lewis into the starting lineup in place of Udonis Haslem.
Going into Monday’s game, the Heat had been outscored by 37 points in 34 minutes when Chris Bosh and Haslem were on the court together in this series. So Spoelstra opted for something different, allowing Haslem to replace Andersen as his first power rotation player off the bench.
Lewis did not have a point, rebound or assist in Game 3, but the Heat outscored Indiana by 21 points in his 17 minutes, and Spoelstra called it “one of my favorite stat lines of all time in the playoffs.”
The starting group of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Bosh, Lewis and Mario Chalmers played just 60 minutes together during the regular season, with that group outscoring opponents by 22 points. Lewis started only six games this season.
With that starting unit, the Heat outscored Indiana, 18-11, to open Game 4.
Andersen is listed as day-to-day.
James said he grinned when he heard that Lance Stephenson said James showed “a sign of weakness” by responding to Stephenson’s trash-talking during Game 3.
James had no additional comment, but conceded that in general, these types of comments can “help at times when you’re doubted” and “you can use it as motivation.”
But “I’ve smiled and laughed at it a lot as well,” he said. “It depends what kind of mood I’m in. … I don’t need much motivation.”
Asked before the game whether Stephenson’s comments would create a monster out of James, Pacers forward David West said: “More than what he is? I don’t know.”
Pacers coach Frank Vogel predicted Stephenson’s comments would have no effect in Game 4.
“I don’t think LeBron, Dwyane Wade are going to play any harder than they’re already playing,” Vogel said.
Spoelstra said he would not discourage his players from trash-talking and “I don’t think it has any impact on the outcome.”
The Heat’s front office has begun studying possibilities for the 26th selection in the first round of the June 26 NBA Draft.
According to ESPN college basketball writer Jeff Goodman, the Heat will host a workout with several players on Tuesday, including North Carolina 6-5 shooting guard P.J. Hairston, Wichita State 6-8 small forward Cleanthony Early, Connecticut 6-9 forward DeAndre Daniels, UCLA 6-5 guard Jordan Adams and Louisville 6-0 point guard Russ Smith.
Hairston, who averaged 14.6 points last season, and Early (16.4 points) are considered mid-to-late first-round picks. Adams, projected as a late first-round pick, averaged 17.4 points last season. Daniels and Smith are considered potential second-rounders.
Tennessee 6-8 forward Jarnell Stokes, considered a late first-round pick or early second-rounder, will audition for the Heat on Thursday.
Because the Heat traded its 2015 first-rounder to Cleveland as part of the 2010 sign-and-trade for James, Miami is not permitted to trade its first-round pick before this year’s draft in accordance with NBA rules. But the Heat can select a player on behalf of another team and trade that player after the draft.
The Heat had no turnovers in the first quarter, only the second time Miami has done that since the start of the season.