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Bench battles: How do Charlotte and Miami match up?

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

One of the the scariest parts about Miami's collection of upper echelon starters is that they can rotate the rest for them so that they minimize being without LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all at the same time.

Still, even when they give them time on the bench, Miami's got a talented group of role players. They're an odd bunch of veterans, journeymen and reclamation projects, but they fill their roles pretty well.



Norris Cole and Ray Allen are the two first guards to come off the bench for Miami. Cole's an extremely quick point guard with a decent enough jump shot. He's not a great passer and can turn the ball over a bit, but he's most dangerous as a three-point shooter.

Allen's a stone-cold killer from behind the curve. We all know he's there to shoot threes and he does it well. He's having one of his poorer shooting seasons, but it's still pretty good at 37.5 percent from three. More than just that, though, he's a weapon in just tiring out his defender. Allen may be getting old but he's still superb at moving off the ball to find space on screens and recognizing where he needs to be based on how his defender reacts to a screen. When you realize how much energy Gerald Henderson, Gary Neal and Chris Douglas-Roberts will have to expend going from defending Dwyane Wade to chasing Ray Allen, it's easy to see that this matchup against the Heat will be quite difficult.

I'm not sure how much Miami will tighten up their rotation from here, but Toney Douglas and Roger Mason are the next two off the bench, if the Heat are forced to delve deeper into their reserves.


Luke Ridnour will come off the bench at point guard and he could have a tough time in this series with Miami's blitzing pick and roll defense. At the same time, the Bobcats will split up ballhandling duties between him and Gary Neal, probably. Ridnour's shooting hasn't been up to par thus far for the Bobcats, but he might get some shots in the corner against Miami. His defense isn't great either, so watch out for Chalmers or Cole to take advantage of his weakness on man defense.

Neal could have a big impact, for better or worse. His three-point shooting is absolutely crucial to the Bobcats' offense and postseason hopes, but he isn't the most willing passer. Charlotte will need him to come up big on offense to keep Miami's defense spread out.



Shane Battier is the first forward off the bench for Miami, and has started for much of the Heat's season. Whether Miami keeps with Bosh at center or starts Haslem (Clifford thinks it'll be Haslem) will decide if Battier moves to the bench. Battier's primarily a three-point shooter on offense. With his skill set on offense, he doesn't really offer anything else. He's a willing passer but his jump shot is reliable enough that he won't need to that too much. His defense is still fine, but he's pretty much Miami's Anthony Tolliver, which is a good role for the 3 and D player he is.

Michael Beasley will also see some playing time. He's no defensive stalwart but Miami's gotten some scoring production out of him from the bench. James Jones is a rather good shooter, but also struggles as a defender.

Rashard Lewis is good for about 16 minutes per game for the Heat, but that might decrease in the playoffs if Erik Spoelstra tightens up the rotations and plays the starters more. Lewis is an OK defender and can stretch the floor with his jump shot, but he doesn't have much impact on the floor at this point in his career.


Clifford splits playing time at small forward between Chris Douglas-Roberts and Anthony Tolliver. Both offer three-point shooting, but Douglas-Roberts has a wider skill set on offense. Tolliver sticks to threes almost exclusively (80.5 percent of his field goal attempts are from behind the arc) while CDR also helps in transition and on cuts, in addition to taking mostly threes. Both are above average defender, I would say, but Douglas-Roberts probably has an edge with quicker feet.

Cody Zeller, who had a downright dreadful start to his season, has filled out in his power forward reserve role. He's an aggressive rebounder and runs the floor well, but has had visible difficulty on offense. As the season's gone on, he's gotten better, probably because the Bobcats' offense has improved progressively, too. With more space to work with, Zeller's become more comfortable, but until he can become a better jump shooter, teams can presume he's just an offensive threat on drives to the rim from the elbow. Charlotte runs the pick and roll a lot with him, and he'll see some looks when Miami blitzes on pick and rolls.



Though Miami lacks rim protection in their starting lineup, they've got loads of it on the bench in Chris Andersen and Greg Oden.

Andersen is a much more lithe and mobile center than Oden, who lacks the quickness to be as good a help defender as the man better known as Birdman. He's a high-flying highlight machine with long arms and a defensive mindset and a nose for rebounding. Anderson can terrorize the glass and throw down monstrous dunks but he can't quite match up against Al Jefferson strength. Against Biyombo, however, he'll be free to roam a bit to help stifle the Bobcats' shots in the paint.

Spoelstra and the Heat have done a great job returning Oden back to the NBA after his sad injury history. He's still only played 212 minutes this season, but that's still an increase of ∞ percent over last year. He's still got a penchant for blocking shots and he can't stray too far from the paint, but it will be interesting to see how much he might play against the Bobcats.


Bismack Biyombo could have some glances at offensive success if Miami decides to step away from him and give him a lane to cut, but mostly his offense might come in transition. He's notoriously raw on offense, but by moving his role to the bench, Biyombo's impact has become more concentrated. He's shooting 61 percent on half as many shot attempts and blocking a higher percentage of shots. He might surprise some folks with a hook shot or two, but I don't expect to see that too often in this series. He's more likely to turn the ball over. Biyombo's role is to erase defensive mistakes and protect the rim.

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