The Miami Heat may need Greg Oden sooner than expected in the 2014 NBA playoffs. Before the 2013-2014 NBA season began, the Miami Heat signed Oden to a one year contract. Their reasoning for taking on the self-proclaimed draft “bust” was to potentially help against Eastern Conference rivals, the Indiana Pacers. Roy Hibbert and the Pacers gave the Miami Heat a world of trouble in the 2013 NBA Eastern Conference finals and it became clear the Heat would need more depth on the frontline.
While Greg Oden has become an ongoing punchline since being drafted ahead of Kevin Durant in 2007, he has quietly found his place as a serviceable backup at center. Injuries remain a major concern of the once imposing defensive stopper. In spite of all the struggles, he showed flashes this season of the player the Portland Trail Blazers were hoping to get back in 2007 (who could use some help against the Spurs right now). It seems that flashes are all the Miami Heat are ever going to get out of Oden though.
As the Miami Heat easily breezed through the Charlotte Bobcats in round one, Greg Oden’s services were clearly not needed. The same was expected to be true of the Heat’s second round match up with the Brooklyn Nets. After game two, it appeared the Miami Heat were well on their way to a second straight series sweep. However, some developments in game three in Brooklyn could lead to Oden getting on the court at some point in this series.
Andray Blatche, who had done next to nothing against the Heat in the first two games, came up big in game three for the Brooklyn Nets. Blatche scored 15 points and had 10 rebounds in only 20 minutes backing up Kevin Garnett. At times, Blatche looked nearly unstoppable. Chris Andersen was helpless in his back up minutes and even Chris Bosh looked exposed by Blatche.
Chances are high that the “Andray Blatche game” was more of the side effects of the outstanding shooting by the Brooklyn Nets. But if it starts happening again in game four, it would not be surprising to see Greg Oden check in at the scorer’s table for Miami. After all, didn’t they sign him to give them depth for the playoffs? The Miami Heat perimeter defense needs to get better, but an exposed interior defense will lead to more shooting for the Nets. And if Paul Pierce gains confidence, this series could take an ugly turn for the Miami Heat.
Watch the first quarter of game four carefully. If the Miami Heat defense is as porous on the inside as it was Saturday night, Greg Oden could be taking off the warm ups.
[Images via Bing and Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports]