MIAMI — Even after playing the NBA-maximum eight preseason games this year, coach Erik Spoelstra isn’t ready to name the Heat’s starting lineup yet.
Spoelstra has until Wednesday at 7 p.m. when Miami opens the season in Orlando to make that decision.
“I’m still going through it,” Spoelstra said Monday. “I’m going to take the time that I feel is necessary and I’m also not going to feel boxed in. There’s still a lot to learn about this team.”
Point guard Goran Dragic, small forward Justise Winslow and center Hassan Whiteside can already be penciled into the starting lineup. But the starting shooting guard and starting power forward has not been decided yet.
If Spoelstra picks the players who made the most starts at those positions during the preseason, Dion Waiters would start at shooting guard and Derrick Williams would start at power forward.
At shooting guard, Waiters made four starts, Tyler Johnson made two starts, and Wayne Ellington made two starts this preseason. At power forward, Williams made five starts, Luke Babbitt made two starts and James Johnson made one start this preseason.
Spoelstra might have no choice but to start Waiters. With Josh Richardson and Ellington currently dealing with injuries and Tyler Johnson also the Heat’s backup point guard, Waiters is the clear choice to open the season as the staring shooting guard.
Waiters averaged 12.3 points on 47.6 percent shooting and 3.7 assists in seven games this preseason.
If Wednesday’s starting lineup is Dragic-Waiters-Winslow-Williams-Whiteside, that group played 18 minutes together and outscored opponents 45-44 this preseason. The Heat shot 59.4 percent with this lineup on the floor, but opponents also made 50 percent of their shots against this group.
Don’t be surprised to see different starting lineups from the Heat throughout the season. Spoelstra said he’s never been a coach to alter his starting lineup based on opponents, but he didn’t rule it out for the upcoming season.
“I’ve never really done that before,” Spoelstra said of using different starters for different opponents. “I’m not sure that will happen. But I’m open to whatever the season reveals. I think that’s the way we have to be right now.”