Heat forward Shane Battier, one of the NBA's best defenders for the last several years, was asked about his approach to guarding a player like Kevin Durant.
“You start out Sunday morning in church,” he said with a laugh. “Say three Hail Marys. I've got some Buddha beads. You pray to all the gods.
“He's a tough cover. He's a guy who I have the ultimate respect for. Outside of my own team, I think he's the best player in this league. He's hungry. He's relentless.”
Battier later said Durant is “up there” in the rankings of best players he's defending in his career.
“I've seen his growth from his rookie year, and obviously his talent is unparalleled,” Battier said. “But now he's starting to understand the game. Not just scoring baskets, but how to be a basketball player. When supremely athletic and talented guys figure that out, that's when it's game over.”
MIAMI LINEUP UNDECIDED
At Monday's Media Day, Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra wouldn't reveal his starting lineup for Tuesday's opener.
“I'll give you the lineup tomorrow night,” Spoelstra said.
And unlike the Thunder, with its solidified starting five, Miami's tipoff crew is constantly shifting.
During the Eastern Conference Finals, Spoelstra used three different starting lineups. All-Star forward Chris Bosh, who is coming off an abdomen injury, wasn't involved in any of them.
But with Bosh back healthy, delivering 19 points in the Heat's closeout win, many believe he will rotate back to a starting role. Spoelstra said that change is not a given.
“I'll consider everything by tomorrow night,” Spoelstra said. “I think he can handle more minutes. We'll have to see. He was able to handle those 31 minutes.”
BATTIER ALMOST JOINED THUNDER
Before the 2011-12 season began, Battier was a free agent and the Thunder was among his suitors.
“It was strong,” Battier said of the mutual interest. “I really wanted a three-year deal, and because of their commitments they have coming up in a very short time period, they were not able to commit to that.
“That really was a deal breaker. I didn't want to go somewhere where I played half a season, and then I'm getting ready for free agency again and moving my family across the country. Miami was the only team that offered me a three-year deal.”
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