With Chris Bosh sidelined, the Miami Heat have had to dish out more minutes to their other big (if you want to call them that) men. One player who has seen an increase in minutes especially has been Joel Anthony. The Canadian national player has seen his average minutes jump from 17 in their series with the Knicks, to roughly 27 minutes through 4 games against the Pacers. In game 4 Anthony saw his littlest amount of floor time logging 22 minutes, but his 3 blocks helped the Heat out on the defensive end to kick start some fast break opportunities. The Heat are at their best in the open floor, and Anthony’s ability to alter shots and secure rebounds will be a significant factor for the Heat to win games in what could be a 7 game series.
Anthony had a knack for blocking shots in his college career, and also during his 3 game stint for the Iowa Energy during the 2008 season averaging 4.00 blocks a contest. Daequan Cook was called back to the Association along with Anthony from that Iowa Energy team and both players are playing in this year’s postseason. Cook is now playing ball with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and has recorded sporadic minutes this postseason averaging 3.0 points and 1.0 rebounds this season.
Roy Hibbert’s game has matured immensely this season and especially this postseason. Hibbert is averaging 13.5 points and 12.3 rebounds so far in this series, and Anthony has had the tough task of trying to keep Hibbert out of the paint both on the offensive and defensive end. Anthony gives away 5 inches in height, and 15 pounds to Hibbert, but has proven he has the ability to box out Hibbert.
Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra has opted to keep Anthony coming off the bench so far this series, and it will be interesting to see if he changes that strategy up. With the series tied at 2-2 roster rotations will become even more important as the series gets longer. Many believed that Indiana head coach Frank Vogel kept Roy Hibbert on the bench for too long down the stretch in game 4, including myself. If Spoelstra can utilize Joel Anthony and his other semi-bigs in a fluid rotation, that might be the tipping point for the Heat to take this series.
With superstars such as King James and D-Wade, it is easy to miss the contributions a player like Joel Anthony can provide especially in a tight, fierce series. Anthony would probably tell you he is comfortable with that as long as they keep winning games…James, Wade and the Miami Heat fans would undoubtedly concur.