The Miami Heat could be missing two key contributors when they try to put the Eastern Conference finals to bed Wednesday night.
According to media reports, Ray Allen and Chris Andersen are questionable for Game 5.
“Top reserves Chris Andersen and Ray Allen have both received extensive treatment for hip and thigh injuries, and their status for Game 5 remained in question as the team prepared to fly to Indiana late Tuesday afternoon.”
The Heat were able to beat the Indiana Pacers in Game 4 without Andersen, but doing so twice in a row is a more difficult task. Allen possibly being out makes things more difficult. The Pacers will have time to regroup and see how they could have attacked a Birdless Heat team. Allen’s spacing would sorely be missed.
The Heat inserted Rashard “plus-minus” Lewis into the starting lineup, slotting Udonis Haslem into the third-big/energy guy role vacated by Andersen. One would assume the Heat would play it the same way should Andersen miss Game 5. But, as David and I discussed on the podcast, I think throwing Haslem back in as a starter would be an interesting chess move on Erik Spoelstra’s part. Going back to Indiana, you bet that the Pacers will try to get Roy Hibbert involved early. Playing Haslem against him early could help keep him out of rhythm.
For Allen, the Heat could go with James Jones. But Jones isn’t a good on-ball defender, and that could be costly against Indiana. Playing Jones briefly to loosen up the floor may be necessary, but if Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole or Shane Battier (or even Lewis!) can get the three-ball to start falling, it would limit the need to play Jones.