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After carrying team in first two series, Heat's bench struggling against Pacers

The Heat's bench has gone from setting records for points in back-to-back playoff series, to struggling so impressively against the Pacers that Heat coach Erik Spoelstra summoned Joel Anthony and Mike Miller from the bench in the second quarter on Friday.

Ray Allen, Shane Battier and Norris Cole are a combined 5 of 31 from the field in the Eastern Conference finals. Battier failed to score in Game 2 and was reduced to just 14 minutes of action. Allen had six points off the bench but went 0 of 2 from three-point range and 2 of 4 from the free-throw line. The Heat's bench had 19 points in Game 2, led by Chris Andersen, who was signed mostly for his defense.

There's a growing since in the series that LeBron James is being asked to do too much. After giving the Heat a four-point lead in the fourth quarter of Game 2 with a magnificent effort, James switched to David West defensively and seemed gassed by the last minute of the game. (Of course, the narrative would be much different today if James found Ray Allen for a game-winning three-pointer with eight seconds to play instead of committing a turnover.)

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who turned to Anthony and Miller in the second quarter, underscored after Friday's game that he's not prone to overreaction.

"Everybody was raving about our depth last game and that we have an incredible amount of depth," Spoelstra said. "That's one of our major strengths. And we'll continue to go to it. And we have full confidence in those guys.

"The storylines will change, but we know the deal. It's a very close series. We have to play well, we have to finish, we have to close out games. And we're hoping to do that in Game 3."

Miller is an interesting option for Game 3. He was at his best at the end of the season in a substitute role for Dwyane Wade but then returned to the back of the bench when the playoffs began. Should Spoelstra try Miller over Ray Allen in Game 3 and how exactly would that affect the team's chemistry?


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