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Monday, January 27, 2014

Heat's Greg Oden showing signs of improvement

By on 1/27/2014 04:30:00 PM

The Miami Heat defeated  the San Antonio Spurs in their first meeting since Game 7 of the NBA Finals last season, by the score of 113-101.  The win improved the Heat's record to 32-12, first in the Southeast Division.   Heat backup center Greg Oden had three points, two rebounds, a steal and a block in 13 minutes. While those numbers are modest, there was a moment which clearly indicated signs of improvement following multiple knee surgeries over the past four seasons.

As reported by Michael Wallace of,  Oden  made his most explosive move during his comeback in the second quarter.  He slipped into the lane and retrieved a pass from Dwyane Wade. While sandwiched between Tim Duncan and Boris Diaw, Oden slammed a dunk with authority. Oden downplayed the dunk, saying it was just another two points.

 Keith Allison via Wikimedia Commons
The 13 minutes he played was a season high in his fifth game game.  Oden's played 23 minutes over the last two games after only 19 in the first three. It's also the first time he's played two consecutive games this season.

While Oden clearly shows signs of rust, the former number one overall pick has shown glimpses of how much a force he can be defensively.  After a recent game against Pau Gasol of the Lakers, Gasol said it was good to have Oden back.

 “I was happy that he was on the floor [and] I wish him luck. I hope he can just play and hopefully the knee won’t bother him too much and he continues to get better.”
Tim Duncan was also impressed with Oden's progression.

 “He looked good in the minutes he played; he played solid for them.  He’s a big body in there, obviously, and finished around the rim. They’re very good at moving bodies in and out of there, so who knows what he’ll bring?”
Oden, who tends to be his own worst critic, said that he could have done more on Sunday and wishes he could help more in the bursts of minutes he's been getting on the court.
“I know there are a couple of plays when I was setting picks and I probably picked two guys at once. Just going down there and making two guys come and try to block me out, that's just taking another man off our guys and freeing them up somewhat. That’s how I can make a difference right now, because my offense isn't where I want it to be and my wind isn't where I want it to be."
Oden knows his minutes will continue to increase as he works off the rust.  If he continues to improve at the current rate, he should be a significant force for the Heat down the stretch and into the post season, which is bad news for the rest of the NBA's big men.

Oden is in his third season out of Ohio State.  He was coming into his own as an NBA center with the Trail Blazers in 2009-2010 before injuries struck. He was averaging 11.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocked shots per game.  In 87 career games, Oden is averaging 9.1 points, 7 rebounds and 1.4 blocked shots per game.


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