Mailbag: Is a change coming to the Miami Heat’s starting lineup?

Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade, right, makes a move against Philadelphia 76ers’ Robert Covington, left, during the first half in Game 1 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series Saturday, April 14, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

MIAMI — It’s time for another Heat mailbag.

If you weren’t able to ask a question this time, send your questions for future mailbags via Twitter (@Anthony_Chiang and @tomdangelo44). You can also email me at achiang@pbpost.com.

@Alenforza45k: Is there a possibility of a different Heat starting lineup for Game 2?

Anthony Chiang: Sure, there’s always a possibility. But I would be pretty surprised if Erik Spoelstra made that change this early in the series. Game 1 definitely didn’t go well, but it was one game. The Heat don’t usually overreact to one game — whether it’s a 30-point loss or a 30-point win. Miami has used 25 different starting lineups this season due mostly to injuries, but the one that Spoelstra has used most is the five-man group that began Game 1 — Goran Dragic, Tyler Johnson, Josh Richardson, James Johnson and Hassan Whiteside. The results haven’t been great, as this lineup was outscored by four points in 202 minutes together during the regular season and by 15 points in nine minutes in Saturday’s playoff opener. But what change could Spoelstra really make? Dragic, Richardson and Whiteside are pretty much locked in as starters and James Johnson is the best option at power forward, especially against Philadelphia’s combination of athleticism and length. That leaves Tyler Johnson’s shooting guard spot as the most likely candidate for change. Dwyane Wade and Wayne Ellington are options to replace Tyler in the starting lineup, but Spoelstra probably isn’t going to make that change … at least right now. If the Heat go down 2-0 or 3-0? That’s a different story.

@mcor93: Why has Spoelstra quit on Hassan to the point where Hassan has become a shell of himself?

Anthony Chiang: Spoelstra has not quit on Whiteside. In fact, Spoelstra knows how much the Heat need a dominant Whiteside, especially in the playoffs. He understands an engaged Whiteside is a game changer. It’s obvious, though, Whiteside needs to play more than the 12 minutes he played in Game 1. At least give him a chance to work through his struggles and build some confidence. I believe Spoelstra knows that, too, and Whiteside will probably play a lot more Monday. Sure, the Sixers play fast and play small. But the Heat and Whiteside can’t let Philadelphia dictate the terms of this series.

[Heat are down in series but not out after being run off court by Sixers]

[Josh Richardson confident he’ll bounce back after quiet Game 1: ‘I saw spots I could have attacked. I’ll change it tomorrow’]

[Hard to take solace from few bright spots for Heat when, as Dwyane Wade put it, ‘they beat our butt’]

[Heat will have another chance to face Joel Embiid-less Sixers. Embiid ruled out for Game 2]

[Does Heat center Hassan Whiteside have it in him to flip narrative after humiliating Game 1?]

[Why did Heat center Hassan Whiteside play just 12 minutes in Game 1?]

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