HANG TIME, Texas — Now that the streak is broken, it doesn’t make any sense to risk breaking down the key members of the Heat before the playoffs start.
After 27 consecutive victories and nearly eight relentless weeks of chasing history, it’s likely Miami’s key players will get a chance to recharge their batteries before what is expected to be another long playoff grind.
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade told Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that they look forward to getting a chance to catch their breath and put their feet up.
Forward LeBron James said he would appreciate a break over the final two-plus weeks.
“I understand with the position that we’re in now,” he said, “I can use a game here or a game there, to kind of get my body just feeling a lot better before the playoffs start.”
Guard Dwyane Wade, who was given two games off earlier in the week to rest a balky right knee, said being right for the playoffs is the priority, but that also includes maintaining a degree of continuity.
“We’re at the point,” he said, “where we want to make sure that guys are focusing on what we need to do and not be out there just waiting for the playoffs. So we still have basketball to play and we have to play it when we’re on the court.
“But I think guys need to take the opportunity, as well, to clear minds and clear their bodies and get ready for what we’re put together for.”
All of the principals were in position for Friday night’s bounce-back win at New Orleans. James played 32 minutes, Wade 33 and Chris Bosh had the lightest load at 22. Starting point guard Mario Chalmers was held out due to a bothersome ankle.
Wouldn’t it be the most delicious of ironies — and a touch of tit-for-tat revenge — if coach Erik Spoelstra decided to start that rest in the next game on Sunday night in San Antonio? Not only would it short-circuit an NBA Finals preview against the best-in-the-West Spurs, but could be a response to San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich having four of his top players — Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green — fly home at the end of a road trip back on Nov. 29 rather than play at Miami.
Coincidentally, a lawsuit against the Spurs that had been filed by a Heat ticket holder for, in essence, breach of contract, was voluntarily dropped on Friday. The Spurs were fined $250,000 by commissioner David Stern for not giving proper notification of Popovich’s decision. The Heat barely beat a team of Spurs reserves 105-100.
Now four months later, would it be a fair turnabout by Miami? Is it simply time for the Big Three of the Heat to get some rest before the playoffs? And who’ll be monitoring Stern’s blood pressure before the lineups are announced?