Current tough times could benefit Heat down the road

CHICAGO IL - JANUARY 15: (L-R) LeBron James #6 Carlos Arroyo #8 and Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat sit on the bench in the fourth quarter against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on January 15 2011 in Chicago Illinois. James missed the game with an akle injury as the Bulls defeated the Heat 99-96. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and or using this photograph User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Following the Heat's loss to Atlanta on Tuesday Erik Spoelstra was somewhat optimistic, and that's because he was looking at the bigger picture.  The game itself was pretty ugly.  It was the first time this year that Miami had to play without Chris Bosh and the lineup had some serious struggles because of that.  With Udonis Haslem also out, the Heat were left without any kind of dynamic low-post presence and that caused a lot of problems on both ends of the floor.

The reason that Coach Spo was optimistic even after all of those problems is because the Heat are now forced to really open up their lineup.  They have to use different roster combinations and some of the players may have to open up their game a bit.  Even though Miami has several ‘role players', the current injury situation is going to have guys playing different positions and for extended minutes, stepping out of their usual ‘role' in order to fill the needs of the team. 

It may be ugly at times while the players adjust and get comfortable but in the long run this is really going to benefit the Heat.  These are lineups that Miami needs to be comfortable using because you never know what could happen in the playoffs and you want every guy on your roster to be confidant and comfortable with whatever situation may arise. 

Granted, Miami has done a lot of winning lately but those wins have come without much progress being made on the coaching side of things.  Championship teams know they can trust every player on that bench to come into a game and produce, regardless of which starters are out there or what position they are playing.  That's just the way it is, and it's why the great teams are so few and far between. 

The bottom line is that the Heat has a chance at being one of those great teams, but they may have to sacrifice some wins to get there.  I'm very confidant that after getting some practice time with these new assignments, the players will begin to develop a comfort level with themselves and their teammates.  The word trust has been thrown around a lot this week and it's not hard to see why.

Before the injury bug began to effect the Big 3, Miami was winning a lot of games and it was due to playing a certain way that allowed each of the 3 to feed off of one another and utilize the components around them.  Now suddenly the Heat are scrambling to find lineups that work and until Chris Bosh returns they are going to have to keep searching while trying out a lot of different things. 

It may not be pretty at first and the short-term results could suffer, but in the long run it's going to benefit the Miami Heat as a well-rounded and prepared team.  Hopefully when the playoffs arrive the team will be healthy and playing exactly the way that Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra envisioned when putting the team together last summer.  However, when that unexpected injury pops up, it's the work that the players are putting in right now that will help them during the tough times of a long playoff run. 

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