Heat Mailbag: After his throwback Game 2, should Dwyane Wade start? Plus: bench vs. starters

Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade reacts to his basket in the last minute of the second half in Game 2 Monday’s playoff game in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Time for another Miami Heat mailbag. … Playoff edition.

If you were not able to ask a question this time, send them along for future mailbags via Twitter to @tomdangelo44 and @Anthony_Chiang. You can also e-mail me at tdangelo@pbpost.com.

From @MikeTrimWPTV: Given his game 2 performance, should Wade start game 3 or stick to his bench role.

Wade now has played 23 games since returning to the Heat, coming off the bench in all 23. In the two playoff games he has scored 39 points on 15-of-25 shooting, with 11 rebounds and seven assists, including his throwback 28-point performance Monday in Game 2 against Philadelphia that helped the Heat even the series. He has played a total of 45 minutes.

But does Erik Spoelstra want to give up that bench scoring and move Wade into the starting lineup? The logical choice would be replacing Tyler Johnson, who is struggling with 14 points in the two games while shooting 3 of 10. Spoelstra has gone with the same starting lineup for seven of the last nine games, including the two games to start the postseason. And their analytical numbers are not very good with the worst plus-minus (minus 9.5) of the 37 five-man units Spoelstra has used in the two games. The next closest is a minus 2.5.

So, the question is a legitimate one. But Wade is finding a groove with the second unit and enjoys playing his early minutes with Kelly Olynyk, Wayne Ellington, Justise Winslow and Bam Adebayo. And it is no coincidence that Winslow’s game has dramatically improved since Wade arrived.

Wade has found a comfort level. He has said many times he has no problem with coming off the bench at this stage in his career. And this allowed Spoelstra to maximize Wade’s minutes by getting him on the floor while the starters are resting and make sure he is fresh for the stretch run of close games. Also, think of the scene tonight during Game 3 when Wade gets out of his seat to enter the game. The crowd is going to erupt bringing another jolt of energy to the arena.

Now, if Wade continues to play like he’s 10 years younger and the Heat struggle again like they did in Game 1, anything is on the table. But for now, Wade will continue to come off the bench.

From Cindy, Coral Gables: A reserve has led the Heat in scoring in each of their last three games. What does that say about the starters?

The leading scorers starting with the final game of the regular season against the Raptors have been Ellington (32 points), Olynyk (26) and Wade (28). The only other player to have as many as 20 points during those three games is Goran Dragic with 20 in Game 2.

But like I said, Spoelstra has found a comfort level, for now, with his starting five no matter what the numbers say and is going to stick with that group as long as he needs. But it does put pressure on your bench when 40 percent of your starters (Tyler Johnson, Hassan Whiteside) have given you just 20 points combined in two playoff games.

[Even after the Heat won Game 2 to take home-court advantage, the Sixers are still betting favorites to win the series]

[Playing time, box-score stats still lacking for Hassan Whiteside. But Erik Spoelstra says Whiteside’s ‘activity level was superb’ in Game 2]

[Heat contest, bully Simmons, Sixers’ 3-point shooters while tying up the series]

[Joel Embiid says he’s ‘sick and tired of being babied’ after sitting out Game 2 loss to Heat]

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