Miami Heat to start Jordan Mickey, James Johnson tonight vs. Pacers. Kelly Olynyk to bench, Hassan Whiteside out

Miami Heat forward Jordan Mickey goes up for a shot against Charlotte Hornets forward Johnny O Bryant III during a preseason game this month. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

MIAMI – Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is making two changes to his starting lineup tonight.

Forwards Jordan Mickey and James Johnson will start as Spoelstra rolls out a lineup with nobody taller than 6-foot-8.  That moves Kelly Olynyk to the bench. Hassan Whiteside is out after bruising his left knee Wednesday in Orlando. The two 7-footers were in the starting lineup for the season-opening loss in Orlando on Wednesday.

The rest of the starting lineup is the same from the season opener: Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters in the backcourt and Josh Richardson at small forward.

The 6-foot-8, 235-pound Mickey will be making his Heat debut. He signed a $1.5 million guaranteed contract in August after being released by the Celtics. He did not play in Wednesday but saw action in all six preseason games, averaging 5.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and one block in 12.2 minutes per game. He made a 3-pointer with 1.0 seconds remaining to beat the Wizards in Miami’s final home preseason game.

Mickey was an elite shot blocker and rebounder at LSU. He led the SEC  with 9.9 rebounds and led the nation with 3.65 blocks per game in his final season, joining Hall of Famer and former Heat center Shaquille O’Neal as the only players in school history to block at least 100 shots in a season.

Johnson started at power forward the first two preseason games and looked uncomfortable. He was replaced by Olynyk, who started alongside Whiteside at Orlando giving the Heat two 7-footers. The move energized Johnson, who admitted his comfort level was much higher coming off the bench. He had 11 points, four rebounds and eight assists Wednesday.

The move also allows Spoelstra to keep Justise Winslow in his role as the backup point guard and power forward. Winslow appears to have embraced the role of a facilitator with the second unit but got some playing time at power forward Wednesday when Johnson was in foul trouble. Winslow had 10 points, four rebounds and two assists in the loss, making half of his eight shots.


[Heat’s two-way contract players to spend Saturday at AmericanAirlines Arena before leaving for Sioux Falls]

[Add Hassan Whiteside to long list of injuries around the NBA. Is shortened preseason to blame?]

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