With just one preseason game left before the Heat’s home opener on Oct. 29, coach Erik Spoelstra is still missing one important piece to his puzzle.
Forward Josh McRoberts, who has been recovering from toe surgery that he had over the summer, has yet to make his debut with the team. The free-agent acquisition is expected to be Spoelstra’s starting power forward when he’s cleared to play.
McRoberts sat again in the Heat’s game against Houston on Tuesday.
“If you ask him he would’ve wanted to play tonight,” Spoelstra said. “We’re being very patient and diligent with this. It’s still early, everybody’s anxious, he’s anxious, everybody wants to see him out there, he’s been able to practice now, that’s what I care about.
“He’s basically able to do everything, we’ve held him out of full contact, but we’ll just take it day-by-day and see where he is as we go along in this process.”
With the start of the regular season looming, the Heat is still in flux — Spoelstra went with five different starting lineups across seven preseason games, to mixed results.
But Miami might have to wait to find stability until McRoberts returns.
▪ Shawne Williams has generally been the man called up to start in McRoberts’ place this preseason.
The former Los Angeles Lakers’ forward earned three starts with McRoberts out, all three of them preseason wins.
Williams put up his best numbers in Miami’s 115-108 win over Golden State, contributing 19 points and seven rebounds.
He also recorded eight points and three rebounds while playing center against San Antonio.
Williams, Luol Deng, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and Norris Cole have been the most-used starting lineup by Spoelstra so far this preseason.
The group shot 56 percent and led the Heat against Golden State on Friday, its first preseason win. The unit also started in Miami’s preseason home opener, a loss to Orlando on Oct.7.
The game marks Cole’s fifth start at point guard; Mario Chalmers has not started since the first game of the preseason.
Even without the player who defies convention, Spoelstra isn’t ready to return to traditional basketball.
Yes, things will be different and perhaps more structured without LeBron James, but Spoelstra has yet to renounce his belief in “position-less” basketball.
“I just think in general when you box yourself into convention that you’re going to limit yourself,” Spoelstra said. “I don’t know where we’re going to go with this team. There will be some elements of this team that are going to be more conventional than in years past, but in terms of position-less, that’s a comfort level for us.
“We like players that can play multiple positions doing multiple things, guarding multiple players. That’s more of a philosophy more than anything, but it will be different, no question.”
With the start of his fifth regular season with the Heat, Bosh reflected Tuesday on his growth since coming to Miami.
“The touches, that’s about it, that’s the only similarity,” Bosh said. “I always get the question, ‘Hey, are you going to be like you were in Toronto?’
“No, I’m not. I consider myself a much better player than I was then, a better leader, and I’m taking all those experiences I had over the past four years, trying to bring all that to my new role.”