The NBA Finals have featured quite a few excellent storylines as the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder face off in a battle for the ages. One of the battles not being talked about enough, though, is the battle of the bigs ... or, as has been the case of late, the lack thereof.
Miami has slowly but surely tightened up their rotation as Erik Spoelstra's playing a version of smallball to take advantage of mismatches on the offensive end. The Heat weren't able to do that earlier in the Playoffs, but things have changed now that they're playing a team with less offensive-minded bigs in Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison.
The play of Oklahoma City's bigs have allowed Miami to go small, playing just one post-up presence at a time -- Tuesday night's big man rotation simply included Udonis Haslem giving Chris Bosh breathers while Shane Battier and LeBron James played as power forwards. That's a problem, obviously, as Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix pointed out in his Wednesday morning column.
Miami starts the 6-foot-8, 225-pound Battier at power forward, where he is frequently matched up against the 6-10, 235-pound Serge Ibaka or the 6-10, 275-pound Kendrick Perkins. Against Indiana, Battier took a brutal beating from David West and Roy Hibbert; but he has largely skated by without much resistance against Oklahoma City, which simply is not comfortable feeding Ibaka or Perkins in the post. If the Thunder are going to go big, they need to play big.
It might actually be better to simply go with the smallball matchups, inserting James Harden into the starting lineup to give Oklahoma City a bit of an extra scoring punch until the bigs prove they can be effective.
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