Heat ditch small ball down the stretch against Pacers

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat changed up their approach to match-up and beat the Pacers, but is what they did sustainable?

Shane Battier was getting abused. It's already been rough for him, as he has really been struggling to shoot the three and find his way in the offense as of late. He has 10 total points in the last five games. And as the Heat played the Indiana Pacers again, Battier continued to get exposed.

In the 2012 NBA Playoffs, Shane played masterfully against David West, almost as if West didn't know what to do with Battier on him. Now, since that series, David West has been abusing Shane Battier any time he guards him. And Miami tried to turn to Udonis Haslem for a little bit, but he's fallen so far out of the rotation that he wasn't all that productive. Haslem is a blistering -41 on the season in his on floor minutes.

Rashard Lewis played a bit as he has been usually with the absence of Michael Beasley to a hamstring, but when push came to shove and the game was on the line, Spoelstra went big. He played Chris Andersen and Chris Bosh alongside of each other, moving Bosh to power forward, something he prefers to play but hasn't played since the days Joel Anthony used to get run.

And it worked. The Wade-Allen-James-Bosh-Andersen line-up played 6 minutes last night and outscored the Pacers 19-10. It certainly was an interesting look because Miami went without a pure point guard, and went much bigger. Overall, the Heat out-rebounded the Pacers 37-36 on their way to the 97-94 victory, pulling them within one game of the East-leading Pacers.

"We were able to get more active and be more aggressive. We made enough plays and enough stops to give ourselves a chance." -Erik Spoelstra

It's not something Spoelstra has gone to nearly enough. He has become so accustomed to playing Bosh at the center position, following him with either James, Lewis, Battier or Haslem. In 2011-12, Spoelstra made the change to Bosh at center in the playoffs and he didn't go back. Now, with the Pacers as the only foe in the East, they may have to re-think their approach to crunch time minutes as the Pacers use their size as well as anyone.

Maybe it's the reason that Greg Oden will be brought along later in the season. But replacing Battier or James as the PF in crunch time takes a 3-point shooter off the floor, and as a result, forced Spoelstra to go without a point guard in light of keeping Ray Allen in the game. Spoelstra juggled the lineups tonight, and he will likely continue to do so. Will Miami being able to change their lineup to match the Pacers, or will the Heat play good enough to make the Pacers match them?

Last year, the Pacers changed enough to allow Miami to continue to play small. This year, it may be different. The Heat will need to stay true to their identity to beat Indiana consistently. Michael Beasley and Greg Oen can both change the discussion, allowing Miami to be with they are without deviating from their plan.

One thing we know for sure is that Miami did a much better job on rebounds this time around. Their big play down the stretch enabled them to end up on top against the Pacers.

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