Spoelstra still sizing things up
Let the regrouping begin for the Heat. And possibly lineup changes, too.
Following the Celtics’ 97-81 victory in Game 3 Saturday night, Miami coach Erik Spoelstra was asked about possible tweaks to his starting lineup. Spoelstra said he would “evaluate everything, A to Z.’’
After practice yesterday, the prospect of change remained, well, unchanged.
“I’m looking at everything right now and I’ll continue to look at that for the next day,’’ said Spoelstra.
The coach said that practice involved different situations with different lineups. But that is nothing new for the Heat. The starting point guard and center spots have been filled by different faces throughout the season. It’s a question of mixing and matching with the givens of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. The core players anticipate a smooth transition if Spoelstra does some tinkering.
“We haven’t had a set starting lineup all year,’’ said James. “Honestly, besides me, CB, and D-Wade, the point guard has been a rotation from Carlos [Arroyo] to Rio [Mario Chalmers] to [Mike] Bibby. To our centers being Damp [Erick Dampier] and Joel [Anthony] and Z [Zydrunas Ilgauskas]. It’s been a rotation for the one and for the five.
“I know it’s tough on those guys. But as far as the team, we’ve seen it happen so many times that whatever lineup is put out there for the start of the first quarter or the start of the second or the start after halftime and going into fourth, we’ve got to go with it.’’
Ready for Rondo Rondo, Rondo, Rondo! The Heat sounded a little tired of being questioned about Rajon Rondo and reiterating how tough the Celtics point guard is.
When asked whether he saw a replay of Rondo dislocating his left elbow in the third quarter of Game 3, Wade said, “I’m not answering questions about that. I’m done with that. Moving on.’’
Spoelstra said he watched the replay where Wade and Rondo became tangled. The players fell awkwardly to the floor, leading to the Rondo injury.
“It looked like a normal contact foul,’’ said Spoelstra. “[Rondo] just landed on it wrong. Those things happen. There was a lot of contact. Some of the plays were a lot more physical than that, where guys didn’t get hurt. Those are tough plays.’’
While Rondo is listed as a game-time decision for tonight’s Game 4 at TD Garden, Miami expects the point guard will be ready to go.
“We’re planning for him to be there,’’ said Spoelstra. “He’s about as tough a guy as you’ll come across in this league. I wasn’t even surprised that he came back. He’s that type of competitor — playing with one arm. You don’t like to see anybody injured at this time of year, even your opponent. We want to beat Boston when they’re at their best and their healthiest.’’
Added Wade, “You assume he’s going to play. When he came back, he was effective. At this time of the year, when guys get injured, especially in these moments, they want to be on the floor. With the home crowd and the way that they make you feel, he’ll be fine.’’
Spoelstra also anticipates that physical play will continue, predicting Game 4 will be “hard-hitting.’’
Bosh feels better Credit a good night’s rest with Bosh’s recovery from a sore neck. Bosh never quite clarified how he pinched a nerve in his neck, except to comment that he woke up Saturday morning with the pain there. Yesterday, it was a different story. “It’s good,’’ said Bosh, who needs to contribute more than the 6 points and 5 rebounds he posted in Game 3. “I feel a little bit better. I’m just glad [Saturday] is over. That’s just one of those days you’ve got to get out of and reset and focus. No matter how I feel it’s still game on [tonight]. I’ve kind of learned to just get that out of the way and not try to make any excuses for it. So, however I feel, however it goes, I’m going to play and I’ll play better.’’ . . . Udonis Haslem continues to move closer to a return from a torn ligament in his left foot suffered in November. “He’s getting closer,’’ said Spoelstra. “So I’m giving him more thought. I’m not trying to be coy about it. We’re just trying to be smart and judicious about this. It’s never easy bringing somebody back into the mix. If this was a normal regular-season game, you’d probably wait a little bit longer. But we’ll see.’’ . . . Depending on how Rondo and fellow guard Delonte West feel tonight, the Heat could see old friend and former teammate Arroyo. The scouting report from Wade: “He’s a steady point guard. He doesn’t turn the ball over. He makes very good decisions with the ball.’’
Shira Springer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.