The last time Ray Allen had started a basketball game, he was in Miami.
Of course, that day Allen played for the hated Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the 2012 Eastern Conference finals. Allen made his return to the starting lineup Thursday night against the Chicago Bulls, the first time he started in a Heat uniform.
“[We wanted] to just get ourselves a different look,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Our bench is a little bit different now than it was last year. We thought this was a direction we might be able to go in.”
Allen said he found out Thursday morning he would be starting in place of Dwyane Wade, who missed his fifth game of the season because of the flu.
Allen, who started for the majority of his career in Milwaukee, Seattle and Boston, scored nine points in 27 minutes. Allen was only fifth on the Heat in scoring against Chicago.
“When you go up to the layup line and go right to the game, you don’t have to think the process through,” Allen said of the difference between starting the game on the bench and on the court. “It’s a natural progression, and I’ve been doing it for a long time.”
Allen’s insertion into the starting lineup created more time for Roger Mason Jr. in coming off the bench. Mason essentially took over Allen’s usual role with the second unit and scored seven points on 3-of-8 shooting.
“Yeah, [Wade’s absence] affects us, but we have so much depth on the bench,” Allen said. “No one can do what Dwyane does, but we have guys that fill in in different ways.”
Wade’s absence Thursday meant more than a lineup change.
The Heat is considering making a trade to add more depth in the backcourt and is dangling center Joel Anthony in potential moves, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported Friday.
In the five games that Wade has missed, he has been replaced by Allen, Mason and James Jones, and Miami is 2-3 in those games.
Mason signed a nonguaranteed contract in the offseason, and the Heat can release him before Jan. 10 to avoid paying his full salary. Anthony is scheduled to make $3.8 million this season and has a player option at the same salary for next season.
Last season, Mike Miller started most often in place of Wade when the latter missed games. Miller was amnestied in the offseason to save Miami around $17 million in luxury tax payments, and he signed with the Memphis Grizzlies.
Art imitates life
Will reigning MVP LeBron James add an Academy Award to his trophy case?
James confirmed Thursday that he will shoot the movie “Ballers” next summer, teaming up with popular comedian Kevin Hart, who will write the film. LeBron will play an NBA star while Hart plays his younger brother who is forced to live life in the shadow of his elder sibling.
James said the project was “not at the forefront” of his mind Thursday, but he expressed excitement about the movie.