Haslem fitting in with rest of starting lineup
Among the subtle moves Erik Spoelstra has made late in the season has been inserting power forward Udonis Haslem into the starting lineup.
It is a look that Spoelstra believes has further improved his team’s playoff outlook.
“Putting him in the starting lineup takes care of a lot of other things with the rotation, as well,” said Spoelstra, whose team lost to the Washington Wizards 104-70 Thursday night in their regular-season finale, with the Heat’s next game Saturday’s playoff opener against the Knicks. “We think it fits with this starting lineup, but it also puts some other components and people in more comfortable places.”
That seemingly all but confirms a playoff starting lineup of Haslem, Chris Bosh, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers.
“I think we’re all feeling much more comfortable than we did three weeks, a month ago,” Spoelstra said of his new lineup and resulting rotation.
For Haslem, it is part of an ongoing shuffle, having previously been pushed out of the starting lineup by 2008 lottery pick Michael Beasley and then when Bosh signed as a free agent in 2010.
“I mean, whatever the role is, I’m happy with it and however I can help the team,” he said. “Coach feels like my best minutes are with that starting group, so if that’s what he feels like my best minutes are, then so be it. I’ll step in and I’ll do my job with that group.
“At the end of the day, it wasn’t really a huge deal with me. I would have continued to come off the bench if that’s what he preferred.”
Haslem’s rebounding numbers have soared since the recent move from the bench into the starting lineup.
“When Coach Spo pulled me in and told me that he wanted me in the starting lineup, he said he just wanted energy with that starting lineup, effort and just bring what I bring to the table and that’s energy, effort, rebounding and defense,” Haslem said.
For Haslem, it merely is getting back to his hustle game.
“That’s all I’m focusing on is bringing energy, that rebounding and that toughness to the starting lineup,” he said.
He closed with six points and four rebounds in 19 minutes Thursday.