Heat's starting lineup won't change
MIAMI -- Despite the Miami Heat's slow first-quarter starts and the underperformance of their starting unit, coach Erik Spolestra will field the same lineup at tipoff of Game 5 against the Philadelphia 76ers Wednesday night.
"I don't see a need to [change] right now," Spoelstra said. "We can change what we need to within ourselves and do it with a better motor and better athleticism and better awareness to start the game."
Miami leads Philadelphia 3-1 in the best-of-seven series. Yet the 76ers have outmatched the Heat in the first quarter in three of the four games.
The defending champs are trying to three-peat. The Heat Index.
The Heat's starting lineup -- point guard Mike Bibby and center Zydrunas Ilgauskas along with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh -- has been outscored by 29 points in the series during 60 minutes of overall playing time, most of it coming in the first quarter.
"That lineup is not our most energetic lineup," Wade said. "Obviously, when Joel [Anthony] comes into the game and, at times, with [Mario Chalmers] coming into the game, a lot of times that's our best defensive, lively and energetic lineup. The starting unit is not that kind of lineup and we understand that, but we do have to start off better."
On Sunday afternoon in Game 4, Philadelphia jumped to a 20-6 lead in the first quarter, after which Spoelstra inserted Chalmers and Anthony for Bibby and Ilgauskas. With them, the Heat outscored the 76ers 41-26 in the remainder of the first half.
At practice Tuesday, Spoelstra was quick to remind the media that the unit, including Bibby and Ilgauskas, performed up to par in the Heat's 94-73 win in Game 2.
"In Game 2, it wasn't an issue," Spoesltra said. "I'm not going to overreact to it right now or overanalyze. I can change that rotation immediate into the game, so a lot of that is so overstated. We have faith in them and what they provide."
Spoelstra has said in the past that Bibby, who shot 45.5 percent from 3-point range during the regular season, and Ilgauskas, a proficient mid-range shooter, provide the Heat with more offensive punch and perimeter threats.
In the regular season, the five-man unit with Bibby and Ilgauskas performed well, outscoring opponents 99-90 in just 48 minutes of floor time together.
"It opens up the floor a little bit because you have shooters," Ilgauskas said. "We've been successful spacing the floor."
On Sunday, Ilgauskas scored only one point in 10 minutes, while Bibby failed to score in 14 minutes, going 0 for 6 from the field, including 0 for 4 from 3-point range.
"A lot of people will look at their scoring, but we'll take those same shots that Mike Bibby got [in Game 4] and the guys got," Wade said. "Well take them again next game."
Kevin Arnovitz covers the NBA for ESPN.com.
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