The focus of the rotation with the Miami Heat at this stage of the NBA playoffs has primarily been the shrinking role of former starting point guard Duncan Robinson.
But backup center Dewayne Dedmon’s minutes have also been cut.
When the Heat turned their attention to Friday night’s Game 3 against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series, Dedmon had played just 21 minutes in the previous four games, four or fewer in three of those four. .
While foul trouble has had an impact, the main determinant has been that the opposition has thinned, particularly with the 76ers opening this series in the absence of sick center Joel Embiid.
“We have great versatility on this team,” Dedmon said. “So being able to be small and match whatever lineup the other team can throw at us, that’s our talent.”
Dedmon said the staff has been candid about the approach, including assistant coach Malik Allen telling him his minutes would likely be cut in what became the deciding Game 5 of the series against the Atlanta Hawks in the first round.
“Malik told me before the game that we were going to be small,” Dedmon said. “We’d done it in the game before, so it was like seeing it coming.”
However, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said he has no problem with his 6-foot-11 veteran big man against undersized opponents, as he has against the 76ers.
“It’s not like I haven’t seen it before,” Spoelstra said. “We have seen it throughout the season.
“Dewayne is very versatile. But it also gives us that size, so they have to deal with it on the other side. And then we also have some smaller lineups that we can go to.”
When it comes to defending agile hybrid big men, the 32-year-old Dedmon simply points to the Heat’s practices.
“Yeah, it’s definitely in my wheelhouse,” he said with a smile. “I have no problem moving around, protecting four men. I close to bam [Adebayo] up all the time.”
And that’s not even reaching the required agility at home.
“Chasing kids definitely helps, it definitely does,” she said, her smile widening. “That’s when there’s a lot of running around.”
While much of the focus in Philly has been on Embiid’s injuries and James Harden’s inability to replicate his old self, the Heat have been duly impressed with 76ers second-year guard Tyrese Maxey.
“You have a lot of tendencies and game plans,” Spoelstra said, “but the speed is unique. It’s one thing to see a movie and then go through it, and then experience it is different. And you just gained a lot of confidence.
“So his ability to get into the paint, break your defense, is something we have to contain.”
Through all the accolades, including this week being named the winner of the 2022 NBA Sixth Man of the Year award, Spoelstra said one of the most impressive aspects of Heat guard Tyler Herro has been his ability to maintain perspective. .
“I think Tyler is about the right things,” Spoelstra said. “He has an incredible work ethic. He is ambitious. He is one of the young stars in the league. And he’s been able to quiet all the noise and just sacrifice himself and do what we felt was best for the group, and it really translated into success and victory.
“That’s all it is. That’s what Tyler is all about.”