BY GEORGE RICHARDS grichards@MiamiHerald.com
INDIANAPOLIS – Erik Spoelstra's starting lineup for Thursday's Game 3 against the Pacers was a closely guarded secret.
Spoelstra refused to divulge his starting five at the morning shootaround and again at his pre-game press conference less than two hours before tip-off.
“I'll turn in my card in the next 45 minutes,'' Spoelstra said.
If Dexter Pittman starting at center was looked at as some sort of secret weapon, well, it was a short lived one.
Pittman, making his postseason debut, didn't last long Thursday as he played the opening 3:29 and sat through the end of the third quarter.
Pittman, a second-year center out of Texas, missed two shots in those first few minutes of the game and was pulled after committing a loose ball foul under the Heat basket with Miami trailing 7-2.
With Chris Bosh out with an abdominal strain, Spoelstra made it very clear all – or at least most – hands were on deck for the Heat. By the start of the second quarter, the Heat had used 11 of its 13 active roster players.
By garbage time in the fourth, all 13 players made it onto the court.
Pittman was joined in the starting lineup by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Mario Chalmers and Shane Battier. Joel Anthony replaced Pittman with 8:31 left in the first.
“Everything is going to be open from here on out,'' Spoelstra said Thursday afternoon. “It's not about the lineup for us.''
() Wade said Bosh is in good spirits after being hurt on Sunday – although he would much rather be in Indianapolis instead of rehabbing in South Florida.
“The next day, Chris was in the locker room with everyone early in the morning,'' Wade said. “He's been around and he's starting his rehab process to get back on the court eventually.
"He's doing good mentally and he obviously wants to be playing. It sucks it came at this time.
"The biggest thing is there is a light at the end of the tunnel; there's a possibility he can come back. So that drives you.''
() James said he watched the second game between the Lakers and Thunder late Wednesday night and didn't have a problem with Steve Blake – a South Florida prep product – taking a 3-pointer in the final seconds of Los Angeles' 77-75 loss in Oklahoma City.
The night before, Miami's Mario Chalmers lofted up a 3-pointer as the Heat trailed Indiana 78-75 with the clock winding down. Like Chalmers, Blake had a wide-open look. Like Blake, Chalmers missed.
“Those are the same shots Derek Fisher has hit multiple times for the Lakers,'' James said Thursday morning. “If Blake makes that shot, it's a whole different story.''
() Wade said the Heat weren't going to carry Tuesday's loss at AmericanAirlines Arena into Thursday's game in Indiana.
“When you win, you move on the next one. Same when you lose,'' Wade said. “Game 3 is Game 3. We're coming into a tough environment and trying to win. We've been here before. We have to win a basketball game. The edge is there for both teams. We're going for 48 minutes to see who gets it.
“We're getting to the point in this series where there won't be a lot of surprises on personnel or play calling. There may be some wrinkles here or there, but not many surprises''
() Indiana's David West said complaints about his team's postgame celebration after winning in Miami on Tuesday were a bit overblown.
“It's a tough game. Anytime you win in the playoffs, especially on the road, you're going to be excited,'' he said.
“I thought, for the most part, we did a good job getting off the floor. We didn't play a great game. It's good to get a win, but not to celebrate after winning like that. We know as a group we can play better.''