NEW YORK, NY - MAY 12: LeBron James #6 and Ray Allen #34 of the Miami Heat celebrate in the final minutes of the game against the Brooklyn Nets in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at the Barclays Center on May 12, 2014 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Miami Heat defeated the Brooklyn Nets 102-96. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said he doesn’t know who will start against the Indiana Pacers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals. While Spoelstra may not know, Heat fans know the reliable Udonis Haslem should start to help out against Pacers center Roy Hibbert.
When Haslem has been in the game against Hibbert, he has effectively neutralized the Pacers big man; despite giving up roughly 5-6 inches of height to Hibbert. For example, on the season, Hibbert has shot just 2-12 when Haslem has been guarding him, according to the Miami Herald.
Going further, when Haslem is on the floor against Hibbert, the Heat has outscored Indiana by five points. Conversely, when Hibbert is on the floor and Haslem isn’t; the Heat has been outscored by Indiana by 12 points.
But just as big as getting Haslem on Hibbert, the Heat will need something out of center/power forward Chris Bosh. In Game 1, Bosh was lit up by the Pacers’ David West for 19 points and seven rebounds while Bosh was once again almost invisible.
Bosh has struggled in the playoffs overall. Bosh has a player efficiency rating of just 17.3, barely above the league average in the playoffs. Bosh’s problem has been getting anything going in the paint. Less than 50 percent of his shots are coming from inside the three-point line and in the playoffs, 36.4 percent of his shots are from three-point land.
Overall against Hibbert and West, Bosh has averaged just 10.9 points and 4.3 rebounds dating back to last year’s conference finals.
The Heat has multiple lineups it could theoretically throw at Indiana. Miami could start Chris Andersen and then bring Haslem off the bench to help out with the energy level. Miami could start Haslem and keep Andersen’s energy for the backups.
Whatever the decision Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra makes on the starting lineup in Game 2; if the Heat can’t solve the Pacers’ big men, Miami will be in a world of trouble coming back to South Florida for Game 3.