greg oden going for the hoop

Greg Oden: Miami Heat Center Starting Gives Team ‘Shaq Effect’

Greg Oden has finally found his role with the Miami Heat this season. A starter. Greg Oden started both of the last two games for the Miami Heat, granted he only played 27 minutes combined in the two games. Heat fans should get used to seeing Oden in the lineup as coach Erik Spoelstra plans on starting the center through the rest of the regular season.

“When you have a big body like that under the paint, you can’t take a body off of him. It’s the old Shaq effect.”

Greg Oden started against the Houston Rockets on Sunday and did very little offensively, but was a bolster to the defense. Oden’s size and defensive IQ helped the Miami Heat end the slump they were in. Losers of five of their last six heading into Sunday’s match up with the Rockets, people were questioning the Heat’s focus and energy heading into the playoffs. Dwyane Wade even admitted that something was wrong with the Miami Heat. Of course, Greg Oden may not have all the answers, as seen by this Dwight Howard block, but he was able to add a little depth to a shallow roster.

Sunday night’s win against the Rockets was followed on Tuesday night by another start for Greg Oden at center. Playing alongside of Chris Bosh, the Miami Heat and coach Spoelstra are obviously changing strategies. Calling it the “Shaq effect” may be a bit much, considering the injury prone Oden can only take in about 15 minutes a game. What Spoelstra may have meant was more on display Tuesday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Greg Oden managed two blocks and two steals in 14 minutes of play Tuesday night, clogging up the lane and contesting everything.

The Miami Heat are riding a two game winning streak with Greg Oden starting at center and hope to continue to use him into the playoffs. Last season, the Heat employed a small ball strategy featuring the athleticism of their big three. It ended in their second NBA championship and hopes of three-peating. But a different roster and changing Eastern Conference has the Heat rethinking their strategy. The second oldest team in the NBA, trailing only the New York Knicks, have to think in terms of conserving energy. Greg Oden provides a depth and a chance to slow things down.

Oden will continue to start for the rest of the season and one can assume the playoffs if he stays healthy. Because of continued health and conditioning concerns, Oden will not start in the second game of back to backs. It will be interesting if that kind of inconsistency will effect the rhythm of the Heat in the playoffs. The Miami Heat are hoping Greg Oden can have the same Shaq effect they received in 2006, an NBA championship.

[Image via Bing]