For months, Erik Spoelstra was left with little option but to spin the wheel of lineups.

Sometimes the wheel stopped at Erick Dampier or Juwan Howard or Jamaal Magloire. Once it even stopped with Jerry Stackhouse in the starting lineup.

But through those months of uncertainty, the vision remained something closer to what the Miami Heat have offered the past two games, home victories that have given them a 3-1 lead over the Chicago Bulls in these best-of-seven NBA Eastern Conference finals.

No, the Heat bench has not necessarily been expansive the past two games, but it has been efficient, with Udonis Haslem, Mike Miller and Mario Chalmers the only reserves called upon in support of the starting lineup of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Joel Anthony and Mike Bibby.

Heading into Thursday's Game 5 at the United Center, figure on more of the same. Because the one constant with Spoelstra this season has been sticking with what works.

With Haslem lost the third week of the regular season with a foot injury that did not have him back in the lineup until the second round against the Boston Celtics, and with Miller only now hitting his stride from a pair of debilitating thumb injuries sustained in preseason and midseason, there no longer is a sense of buying time with the reserves.

"To be a part of this is special," said Miller, who stepped up with 12 points in Tuesday's 101-93 Game 3 overtime victory. "I just got a little rhythm going. It got to be a little like I used to be. Hopefully, it will carry over."

To put Miller's effort into perspective, consider it was his highest-scoring postseason outing since May 1, 2005 for the Memphis Grizzlies against the Phoenix Suns, when he scored 13 points. In addition, he added a career-playoff-best nine rebounds in Tuesday's overtime win.