Basketball / Sports

The Miami Heat's Udonis Haslem tries to block the shot of the Indiana Pacers' George Hill during the first half in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Tuesday, May 20, 2014. (Michael Laughlin/Sun Sentinel/MCT)

Greg Oden still could contribute to Heat

INDIANAPOLIS -- He has yet to appear in the playoffs, but Greg Oden remains a contingency plan for the Heat if they need him in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Oden is Miami's closest match to Pacers center Roy Hibbert's size, though coach Erik Spoelstra has not used him because he is not in playing shape. Oden missed 11 games late in the season because of back spasms, but was healthy enough to play 14 minutes in the finale against Philadelphia.

He also was active for the first-round series against Charlotte and did not play. The Heat are hoping he will be available for Game 3 on Saturday, but that does not mean he would get on the court.

"I want him to have this week of work and we'll reevaluate him," Spoestra said. "He's able now to take the next step and we're encouraged by that. He's more along the road right now and that's why we're spending this week to ramp up his conditioning."

Miami signed him specifically to handle players like Hibbert, who at 7-foot-2, 290 pounds has a significant size advantage over anyone on its roster. Oden (7-foot, 273 pounds) is at least within range.

The Heat have taken a gradual approach with Oden all year because of his ongoing knee problems and did not debut him until January. He played 23 games, starting six times, and never went longer than 15 minutes.

His only matchup against Hibbert was March 26, when Hibbert pushed him around for seven points in six minutes and Miami lost 84-83.

Oden averaged 2.9 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.3 fouls in 9.2 minutes per game this year.

(c)2014 The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Fla.)

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