The Miami Heat have locked up the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and will have home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. This has given them an opportunity to rest some of their stars so they can be injury-free and fresh once the playoffs arrive. Can there be such a thing as too much rest? When does that rest turn into rust?
For the record, just because players sit out of a game, that doesn’t mean they aren’t hard at work in practices. Dwyane Wade (ankle, knee) has missed the previous five games heading into a Wednesday night contest against the Washington Wizards.
However, Wade participated in shootaround on Tuesday afternoon and is travelling with the team. He isn’t at his home in Miami with his feet up watching television with his sons.
Still, the only way to get (or stay) in game shape is to play basketball. The constant grind of an NBA game isn’t something that can be reproduced anywhere but in game situations.
The key when dealing with rest turning into rust isn’t a specific amount of games or a date on a calendar. It has to do with healing up nagging injuries, while keeping one’s self in game shape.
An 82-game schedule isn’t easy by any means. But players’ bodies adapt to the consistent grind and the constant aches and pains. When a player gets away from that for too long, it creates a gap where they have to get their bodies back into that kind of shape.
Over the course of the 2012-13 season, the Heat haven’t had to deal with too many prolonged periods of rest. As a team, they are 13-2 when they get two or more days of rest. Their field goal percentage rises from 47.6 at two days of rest all the way up to 54.4 with six days of rest.
James talked about playing out the remainder of the schedule and said it wasn’t likely that he’d play all five games (h/t ESPN.com):
I mean, I want to play, but I’m going to go against myself for the first time in my career. No, probably about the third time in my career. I sat out a few games when we had it all locked up in Cleveland (in 2009-10) as well, to just try to use those games to get healthy.
Again, James is talking about letting nagging injuries heal up. He isn’t talking about taking extended periods off. One player the Heat will have to worry about is Wade. He hasn’t seen game action since Friday, March 29, against the New Orleans Hornets.
The Heat as a team are going to be just fine come playoff time. Bosh is in relatively good health, James is a cyborg and Wade will need to work himself back in, but he’ll be OK. There’s no specific point where rest turns to rust. It’s a risk/reward situation and where there’s definitely a point of diminished returns.
The problem is, it’s all hindsight. We’ll see in a few weeks when the playoffs are in full swing if Wade took too much time off or not.