It wasn't as dramatic as pushing all his chips to the middle of the table. With the Miami Heat at 11-13 only now entering the second quarter of the schedule, coach Erik Spoelstra doesn't necessarily have to continue playing this hand. But for the first time this season, Spoelstra, in Wednesday night's loss to the San Antonio Spurs to start this three-game trip, put all four of his team's prime offseason investments -- roughly $200 million in combined contracts -- in the starting lineup at the same time. So there, for the opening tip at the AT&T Center, alongside Goran Dragic, stood the four contracts that Heat President Pat Riley signed off on this summer: James Johnson (four years, $60 million), Dion Waiters (four years, $52 million), Kelly Olynyk (four years, $50 million) and Josh Richardson (a four-year, $42 million extension that kicks in next season). "I think tonight was our most comfortable," Johnson said, the mix nonetheless only a temporary patchwork, with center Hassan Whiteside sidelined with a bone bruise on his left knee. "We knew what our game plan was. We knew we were going to play to our strengths and I felt like that first half we executed that pretty well." The realignment had the Heat up eight early, ahead by one at halftime, and within two at the start of the fourth quarter, before the Spurs seized control. From a coach who has shown a preference for smaller lineups, which had included playing 6-foot-7 Justise Winslow at power forward the previous 13 games, it was a move to something bigger, leaving open even bigger possibilities when 7-foot Whiteside returns.
Spoelstra's lineup shuffle has Heat on to next big thing
Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel | Dec 7