Heat’s Battier Embraces Utility Role
In Saturaday’s 105-89 victory over the Utah Jazz, Miami Heat forward Shane Battier received the surprising news that he would be starting at the power forward spot and going against the much bigger Al Jefferson, Paul Milsap, Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors throughout the game. This was also his first start since missing three games earlier in the month with a strained right knee. He had played the previous seven as a reserve.
There were no complaints when he lost his starting job to Udonis Haslem; there were no complaints when he was thrown to the Jazz’s muscle mass Saturday night.
“My entire career, from high school to college, the NBA, it’s been based on that,” Battier said of his go-with-the-flow approach. “It’s kept me employed. And you had to have flexibility in this league.”
Battier met the challenge head-on and shot 4 of 8 on 3-pointers, sparking the third-quarter rally that pushed the Heat to a fourth consecutive blowout victory. He has now made at least one 3-pointer in seven consecutive games, matching his longest streak in his two seasons with the Heat, at 18 of 42 on 3-pointers over those seven games.
“He’s the ultimate utility man,” Head Coach Erik Spoelstra said. ”His confidence will always be there. He does all the little things, regardless of whether he starts or not.”
“A lot of young guys get bent out of shape about roles. When you finally get to a point where you say, ‘You know what? I’m here for the team,’ it’s liberating and I think you play much better,” Battier said. ”That’s where I am now.”