Gregg Popovich inserted season-long reserve Manu Ginobili into the starting lineup in Game 5 and it rejuvenated his play and propelled the Spurs to a 3-2 series lead. The series tilting game pushed the Heat to the brink of elimination and they must find a way to punch back and win consecutive games against the Spurs.
With the results that Popovich saw in Game 5, it is highly unlikely that he takes a different approach in Game 6. The new Spurs' lineup sees Ginobili getting going in the starting lineup and sitting Tiago Splitter. Ginobili had averaged 7.5 PPG in the series before his 24 point outburst in Game 5. And now, the adjustment is looking at Heat coach Erik Spolestra right in the eyes. What will he do?
Remember, it was Spoelstra who first dictated the lineup change in Game 4 by inserting Mike Miller into the starting crew. At that point, Miller had made 8 consecutive three-pointers. But since he has gone from eventual amnestied player to starter, Miller hasn't been on target, going scoreless in both games. Yes, the Heat won Game 4 with Miller stretching the floor, but he is more effective when he actually shoots it, and at this point he isn't.
Miller largely received the assignment of Ginobili in the starting lineup of Game 5, and he failed. Which begs the question, if this is the new Spurs lineup, should Miami consider making an adjustment?
Could the ever struggling Shane Battier be revisited as a candidate to roll with Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Mario Chalmers? It seems unlikely to go back to Udonis Haslem who would be at a mis-match against anyone in this new lineup. But Battier could draw the assignment of any of the Spurs wing players (Danny Green, Ginobili, or Kawhi Leonard) and be ok.
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Battier was the starter in the Heat's championship run last season alongside the same players. Yes, that is when he was a marksman from downtown, and now, he is very inconsistent. But, Battier isn't shy about putting the shots up to get back on track, and showed improvement in San Antonio. Battier could essentially stretch the floor like Miller, in essence, and take care of the defensive assignment of wing players and any early substitutions by Popovich.
Knowing Shane's struggles, putting the responsibility on him to put the Heat back on track is not taken lightly or welcoming to think about. But it could be the key to the Heat being the team we know they are capable of. Battier has all the championship intangibles you could want, it's just a matter of him hitting his shots.
Miller was clearly more productive off the bench, and maybe a nod in the starting lineup could boost Battier to be his old self. Either way, Miami can't sustain another onslaught by Ginobili, Tony Parker and Green altogether. They need to contain some of them, and Battier can help with that.
But Shane has to make his shots, and of course the rest of the team has to play well. Either way, I do believe Spoelstra should consider this change to match the Spurs. It's not about keeping yourself from juggling your spots to maintain ego, but doing everything at all costs to get a win. A second lineup change could very well be that thing.
What do you think?
Should Spoelstra change things up again or keep it the same?