Heat Still Tinkering, Move Erick Dampier Into Starting Lineup
"It's certainly not an indictment on Zydrunas," he said. "He'd been playing well. This is something that's best for our team right now. At the end of the day I still think we are a three center team, and Erick will be our starter for now -- but you can best believe Zydrunas will have a role and I already know which teams he'll have a role against."
Back in the locker room after the victory in which he was the only healthy player to not enter the game, Ilgauskas spoke about his new reduced role in the rotation.
"I think we'll take it game to game depending on matchups and everything else," he explained. "(As a player) you've got to help your teammates, stay ready and that's about all you can do."
With the trade deadline about to expire, Spoelstra predictably gave no indication he was aware that the Heat were actively shopping around for help at the position, but there's no denying that while Ilgauskas, Dampier and Joel Anthony have each done their part to help the Heat reach a 42-15 record, the team could thrive with a proper center capable of logging heavy minutes.
"I think we have enough," insisted Spoelstra. "This is a competitive Eastern Conference. It's as competitive as our conference has been in a long time. We haven't seen our full roster healthy yet this year. Since the end of the November I truly feel that we're one of the most improved teams and we can do that again with what we have in the last 26 games. We can make those same type of strides.
"I know Pat well enough that he has a creative mind and if he feels that there's an opportunity to help the team he'll do it. Our conversations have been normal. It's been more about the team and we both feel that what we have is enough."
The Heat initially struggled out of the gates partly because of their unfamiliarity with each other as teammates while trying to establish chemistry despite a rash of injuries. The reality is that time is running out for Spoelstra to settle on a rotation and stick with it soon as the team enters the final stretch of the regular season. With Dampier a late addition to the roster as a result of Udonis Haslem's serious foot injury, he acknowledged to FanHouse that he's still adjusting to his surroundings with just 25 games left.
"I'm still getting used to it and just playing with those guys," he said. "It was the first time really I stepped in there and played with the starting five. Obviously, I practice with some of them everyday but that's not the lineup that I normally practice with."
Nonetheless, he insists the Heat aren't mixing and matching their centers all season long out of desperation to find what works.
"I don't think we're looking for answers. We just got three different players, each one of us can bring a different dimension of our game to the team. That's the way we look at it. It's whatever we can do when we're out there to help this team win."