Just as fans want to clamor for the return of Mike Miller, more playing time for James Jones or Michael Beasley or some other spark off the bench, Miami’s fortunes rest in ability of the Big 3 to play to their best. In Game 1, the Heat got great production from LeBron James and Dwyane Wade; Chris Bosh, however, was not a factor.
His 3-point shooting has become essential to Miami’s spacing the floor and, when he goes 0-for-5 as he did no Sunday, the Heat will struggle to win games.
But the Bleacher Report’s Ethan Skolnick did provide this nugget to tantalize Heat fans a bit:
Spoelstra says Oden is finally getting back to workload due to back issues. Will re-evaluate him later in week.
— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) May 18, 2014
Unfortunately, this is a pretty vague indicator of Oden’s availability. And, even if he does suit up for the first time in weeks, will he even be a factor?
If you recall, the last time Oden played for Miami was on March 26. The matchup? Against the Indiana Pacers.
At the time, the storyline was that Hibbert dominated the game and torched Oden on his way to 21 points. In reality, Oden only played for six minutes and gave up 9 of Hibbert’s points. While Miami’s Udonis Haslem was able to limit Hibbert’s effectiveness throughout the rest of the game, he wasn’t the stopper everyone has made him out to be. Nor was Oden as much of a liability.
In looking back at the game, Hibbert got some questionable foul calls in his favor and Oden’s biggest problem seemed to be his conditioning. After just a few minutes, G.O. was gasping for air and the Pacers were looking for Hibbert in the block to further wear down Miami’s big man.
After missing nearly two full months of action, there’s a very good chance that Oden is not in basketball shape. While he may be rested and healthy enough, no one is sure if Oden can come in to a game and impact Hibbert and the Pacers, even for just a few minutes.
So is he the unlikely solution to Miami’s problems? In a word, no.