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Rust or Rest?
With the Miami Heat being one of only two teams to sweep their first round opponent, they are the beneficiaries of a week off to rest and heal before the conference semi-finals begin on Monday night. To many, this could be seen as a blessing for this older squad. With Dwayne Wade recovering from a bruised right knee, and countless others from the bumps and bruises that an 82 game season brings, this is the perfect time to get a week off from basketball.
However, there are statistics that show that sometime rest sometimes can lead to rusty play, and even series defeat. There have been occasions of this with both Dwayne Wade and LeBron James.
“But there’s a reason why James isn’t a fan of the long layoff. His Cavs squad lost to the Orlando Magic in 2008-09 after eight days off between the Eastern Conference semifinals and the finals. The Game 1 loss came against a Magic team that had two days off to prepare and the Cavs, who won a whopping 66 games that season, ended up losing the series in six games. Oddly enough, it was the second eight-day layoff for James that postseason (they beat the Hawks in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals).
And Wade? The rest may be needed now, but it didn’t help in his sophomore year in the league. In the 2004-05 playoffs, the Heat swept the Washington Wizards in four games in the Eastern Conference semifinals to earn an eight-day hiatus before facing the Detroit Pistons in the following round. Wade scored 42 points in the Game 4 clincher over the Wizards, but scored just 16 points on 7-for-25 shooting against Detroit in Game 1. The Heat lost that game and the series in seven games.” (Haberstroh, ESPN.com)
That season when LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers won 66 games, they were considered heavy favorites to steamroll there competition in the Eastern Conference, much like the Miami Heat are this season. Granted, the team line-ups are vastly apart when it comes to talent, but there is still something to be said of losing post-season momentum. Many players get into a game rhythm where once they finish a game, they are playing another with in a 48-72 hour window. This conditions their body to be consistently in game-time form at all times (barring injury of course).
Most of the Miami Heat players are itching to start the next round. With the Chicago Bulls and Brooklyn Nets still duking it out, we wont find out who Miami’s next opponent will be until late Saturday night. Regardless of whether the Miami Heat show rust next Monday night or not, you would be hard pressed to find anyone betting against them in this post season. With injuries running rampant again this post season, many feel the red carpet has all but been rolled out for the Miami Heat to win a second consecutive championship. The only team standing in the way of the Miami Heat are themselves.
Final Thoughts: I would like one post season where all of the major NBA stars are healthy. Is that so much to ask? Oh yea, and for Shane Battier to shave this awful mustache:
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