Miami Heat's major starting lineup change appears to be permanent

Kyle Lowry will come off the bench for the second straight game for the Miami Heat.
Jan 3, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; Miami Heat guard Kyle Lowry (7) reacts during the first
Jan 3, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; Miami Heat guard Kyle Lowry (7) reacts during the first / Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat appear to have made a major change to their starting lineup, moving point guard Kyle Lowry to the bench for the second straight game.

Coach Erik Spoelstra announced ahead of Sunday’s game in Orlando that he plans to bring Lowry off the bench for the second game in a row after Lowry played 24 minutes off the bench in Friday’s loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

Lowry had started his first 35 games for the Heat this season, marking a big change to Spoelstra’s rotation.

"I'll do whatever we feel that we have to do in the second half of the season. We are not where we want it to be. That's not an indictment of one player,” Spoelstra said before Sunday’s game against the Magic. "Combinations do matter. Rotations do matter. Lineups that bring out the best in each other do matter. And I'm still in the process of trying to help the team figure it out."

The change on Friday was met with some surprise, with Spoelstra opting to return Caleb Martin to the starting lineup alongside Tyler Herro, Jimmy Butler, Nikola Jovic and Bam Adebayo. It was Miami’s 23rd different starting lineup used this season.

Although the Heat lost, that starting lineup was a net positive for the game. Lowry’s job, especially with Jaime Jaquez Jr. sidelined by a groin injury, is to anchor the second unit.

However, after Friday’s game, Lowry told reporters that he hoped the shift to the bench was a one-game thing and that he would return to the starting lineup. That is not the case, and may not be the case going forward.

Lowry has struggled to make a positive impact this season. He’s averaging the fewest points (8.4) and assists (4) of his career since becoming a full-time starter in 2010. He ranks last in the league among full-time starting point guards in points, field goal attempts and assists.

The Heat, who rank 20th in offensive rating, simply need more from their starters. Spoelstra hopes this change is what the team needs to give their offense a boost.

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