Could Michael Beasley (above) and the Miami Heat reserves be a playoff team by themselves?
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh get all the attention on the Miami Heat most days, but multiple members of the team think Miami's bench could make a run at the playoffs even without the Big Three.
The Miami Herald reported Wednesday that the idea has been the subject of conversation ever since last week, when Wade and Udonis Haslem discussed the odds of the Heat making the playoffs without the Big Three or other starters Mario Chalmers and Shane Battier.
The verdict is almost unanimous, in favor of the reserves. Ray Allen said the bench would "easily" make the playoffs. "Look at how few teams in our conference are over .500," he said (only the Heat and Indiana).
"We could easily compete for the sixth, seventh, eighth seed," Rashard Lewis concurred. "Allen and [Michael] Beasley would be our go-to guys. The rest of us would be role players."
Chalmers told the Herald that the reserves could finish anywhere from the third to sixth seed in the East, and Udonis Haslem said the bench would "definitely make the playoffs."
"We could make some noise" in the playoffs as well, Haslem added.
Miami has four backups in the top 70 plus/minus rankings, according to the Herald. Plus/minus measures how much a team outscores its opponents when a particular player is on the floor.
While these statements reflect the sad state of the Eastern Conference this season, they also speak to Heat president Pat Riley's uncanny ability to convince skilled veterans to accept less money and time in the spotlight to play for the Heat.
Miami's bench is littered with players who used to start and be primary options for other teams, like Allen, Lewis, and Beasley. But Riley convinced them that helping James, Wade, and Bosh win championships was worth the reduction in playing time, and without these now-role players Miami would not have won the last two NBA Finals.