As the Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers appear to be headed down to the wire to decide the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, LeBron James says he’s not planning to be among the many players trying to get some extra rest down the stretch.
Dwyane Wade has been scheduled regular rest for his balky knees all season, playing in just 51 of Miami’s 75 games to this point. Greg Oden has been receiving frequent rest in an effort to keep him healthy for the postseason, even as he’s found himself in the starting lineup in the last five games in which he suited up.
But James, who has missed only three games this season and leads the Heat in minutes at 37.6 per game, has no plans to be modeling business wear on the Miami sidelines.
“I have no choice,” James told the Sun Sentinel. “ I don’t plan on sitting out any of these games unless something happens. I’m going to be in the lineup.”
Wade hasn’t played since March 26, but it’s not the knees that are sidelining him now. Rather he’s dealing with a hamstring strain he sustained in the loss to Indiana the last time he played, as well as a strained Achilles he originally injured on March 16 against Boston.
Oden has missed five straight games dealing with back spasms that first flared up against the Pistons on March 28, forcing him to sit out.
Only one player, Norris Cole, has played in every game for the Heat this season. Chris Bosh has missed one game, James three, Chris Andersen seven, Mario Chalmers and Shane Battier eight each, Ray Allen nine and Wade 24.
That’s led to the Heat experiencing bouts of inconsistency. Their four-game winning streak was snapped with Friday night’s double-overtime loss to Minnesota, but prior to winning those four in a row, Miami fought through a 5-8 stretch that included losses at home to Brooklyn and Denver and road losses at lesser lights Boston and New Orleans.
It’s been a grind for the Heat, who have eight players who are 30 years or older, and the biggest need over the next seven games is to find some modicum of the consistency they will need if they are to make a fourth straight trip to the NBA Finals and contend for a third straight title.
After a 2-1 week, Miami is 52-23, percentage points ahead of Indiana in the East and in first place in the conference. The Heat have already clinched the Southeast Division title for the fourth straight season and can finish no lower than the No. 2 seed in the East.
Here is the week that was, including game reviews, some news and notes, injury updates and rookie watch, and player of the week selection, as well as a look ahead to next week’s action (all statistical information from NBA.com/Stats):