Shane Battier started the 2012 NBA Finals with back-to-back games of 17 points, shooting 4-6 and 5-7 from beyond the arc. Battier played 35+ minutes in 4/5 games against the Thunder while starting alongside LeBron James in the front court.
Since then, Battier's postseason stats have seen him score in double figures once.
Last year, Battier was an integral part of the Heat's title run. Shane made 2+ threes in six out of the 7 games against the Celtics in the 2012 Conference Finals. This year, Battier made two 3-pointers the entire series against the Pacers. Shane hasn't just decreased, he's been bad. This postseason, he's shot 23% from downtown and that includes 13% against the Pacers.
It's been noticeable also. Granted, Battier mostly had to take the assignment of guarding David West and Tyler Hansbrough which takes its toll physically, and the Pacers are one of the best at guarding the corner three, Battier's specialty. But Shane hasn't been himself this postseason. Against the Bulls, he shot 28% from three and 22% against the Bucks. He's missed the shots that make him an important trigger in the offense from deep.
The lack of productivity has began to take a toll on Erik Spoelstra. As Battier had been less effective against David West as he was last year, Spoelstra slowly went away from Battier. He played 8 minutes in Game 5, and then only four minutes in Game 6 going with Mike Miller in his place. And then, Battier received his first ever playoff DNP-CD in Game 7. When Battier doesn't play, he reverts to THIS.
Battier on his benching: "Sometimes you've got to eat a turd sandwich. Makes the ribeye taste better next time."
|2012 - Shane Battier||6.6||2.3||1.0|
But seriously, it's a far cry from the former Duke Blue Devil who won National Player of the Year in 2001. Battier has been an important part of what the Heat have done all season, but now has been jilted out of the rotation.
Battier's progression out of the rotation can be singled to his shooting slump. But his numbers don't tell the entire story. Countless times, Battier found himself hoisting a three to beat the shot clock in positions he wouldn't choose. The Pacers and Bulls are too very tough teams inside and made Shane's life a living hell. But nonetheless, he hasn't produced.
For guys like Shane, shooting is all about rhythm and timing. And it's only a matter of time before Battier becomes effective again for this team if he gets the time. Battier is valuable defensively, and will be against the intelligent Spurs. The biggest player the Spurs bring off the bench is 6'10" Matt Bonner, who sticks to the outside. Battier's play type will be very useful in this series, more so in the second unit when he wouldn't have to guard Tim Duncan. Hopefully, the extra day off will prove useful to finding a way to utilize Battier. Against the Spurs this year, Battier played once. He scored 6 points on 2-4 from three and had 3 steals in the 88-86 Heat win.
Shane isn't deteriorating. He's struggling with his shot. And it can come back at anytime. And when it does, Battier's intelligence on the defensive end will be a huge asset against a team as intelligent as the Spurs. But he better do it soon because guys like Mike Miller, Rashard Lewis, and James Jones would sure like a shot to hit those open threes Shane has been missing. Battier was a key asset the Heat had in defeating the Thunder last year, and the same can prove true this year, he just needs to see the ball go through the net.
What do you think?
Do you think Battier should continue to get time or should Spoelstra look someone else down the bench?