Forget about resting the weary, there's no time for the Miami Heat to pause when they're chasing history.
With the top seed in the Eastern Conference locked up tight, the Heat don't seem to have much to play for. They're more than two games ahead of the San Antonio Spurs for the best record in the league and on the cusp of clinching home-court advantage throughout the entire postseason, the NBA Finals included.
So why not let the big names take a rest?
Dwyane Wade has been banged up since his sophomore season. LeBron James has logged the fourth-most minutes of any other player in the league. Ray Allen's 37 going on 38. And Chris Bosh, well, he could use some time to become a bit more creative with his videobombs.
I'm going for the championship every time. You don't get a plaque, a ring or nothing for 34 wins in a row. You get a record that'll probably be broken one day. Records are meant to be broken. But championships last forever. As a team, we know that. Somebody was telling me it would be way cooler to win 33 in a row. I'm like, 'Man, please. Get out of here with that.' They won't be throwing confetti after . I'll guaran-damn-tee you that.
Like I've stated previously, I'm pretty sure there will be some confetti and bubbly in store for the Heat should they win 34 games in a row. But that's not the point. And neither is their quest for a second straight title.
Building a dynasty is the most difficult task a team can undertake. Rattling off 34 or more consecutive victories is impressive, but it's dwarfed by a team that wins as many titles as Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls.
On that front, I empathize with Bosh and the rest of South Beach's finest. You don't put your well-being on the line for a slice of history.
Yet this isn't a mere "slice" of history. We're talking about the whole damn pie, cake or whatever baked good it is you prefer to munch on.
Winning 34 games in a row immortalizes the Heat the way it did the 1971-72 Lakers. Why would you rest when you have an opportunity to do that?
I'm not saying Wade needs to play on crutches, nor am I suggesting a legitimately concerning injury go untreated. I am, however, imploring the Heat and those against the stars continuing to log heavy minutes to understand what's at stake.
Dwyane Wade out again tonight.— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) March 25, 2013
Fresh off winning a championship last season, the Heat have an opportunity to re-write history. Within a season that has been dominated by winning streaks (Los Angeles Clippers, Denver Nuggets), Miami can put everyone else to even more shame then it already has.
Let's not pretend that means nothing. LeBron sure as hell isn't (via Wallace):
I just appreciate the history. I appreciate guys like Jerry West and Elgin Baylor and all those unbelievable guys who paved the way. For them to say they're pulling for us to get the streak, I think that's cool. When you read stuff like that, it's cool. Guys like Mercury Morris, when you read stuff like that, I think that's crazy.
Crazy like benching players for the sake of some rest and relaxation down the stretch, right?
The Heat comprehend what this streak means, even if most wouldn't admit it. And while I doubt any of them would jeopardize their chance to repeat as champs, I also doubt any one of them would willingly relinquish their recent stretch of perfection.
To say you were a member, a coach of the team that had the longest winning streak in NBA history is the kind of resume booster that could define your career, more so than a championship ring.
More than two or three or four or more rings?
Of course not, but the Heat aren't on the precipice of winning another title. We'd like to believe they're close, but they've got 12 playoff games to win against factions that will be gunning for them before they even reach the finals. Even then, they're still a difficult Western Conference matchup away from laying claim to that title some are so concerned about.
This isn't meant to imply they won't repeat, because they can. It's also not to say they definitely will, because they may not.
This is to say ring or no ring, Miami has the potential to do something beyond special now.
Seven more victories and the Heat will have tied Los Angeles' record. Eight more and they'll call it their own. Nine more and Pat Riley shares the pomade he uses to slick back his hair with the rest of team.
You get the point.
Basketball isn't about living in fear. Conjuring a dynasty isn't about allowing should'ves, could'ves and would'ves to dictate your life.
Miami should've shot better from the field in their February 1 loss to the Indiana Pacers. LeBron could've holstered the ball against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Valentine's Day, let the shot clock expire and kept his 60 percent shooting streak alive. Wade would've donned something other than a white suit to the Heat's win over the Charlotte Bobcats if he had known it was sloppy-joe night in Miami's locker room (kidding).
To be great, you also have to be bold. You have to take risks of all kinds.
Riley and the Heat took a risk when they cleared enough cap space to sign the Big Three. They knew they could come up empty-handed. They knew a formation of this magnitude didn't guarantee championships. They knew it could all backfire.
The players take a risk every time they step on the floor. James could tear his ACL tomorrow, or he could tear it in Game 7 of the NBA Finals.
If a perpetually cautious thought process dominated the NBA, players wouldn't participate in All-Star games. Blake Griffin wouldn't dunk over defenders. And Russell Westbrook would be more conservative in his game-day attire.
But let's say you don't care, that Spoelstra is on the fence about sitting his most important players and that arguments attached to Westbrook's wardrobe won't cut it. Is there any other evidence that suggests Miami needn't take its foot off the gas?
Absolutely. For starters, the Heat are not the Chicago Bulls or Los Angeles Lakers. They haven't been plagued by injuries all season long.
Coach Spo's primary concern, Wade, has only missed five games to date. And the Big Three has only missed eight games through the first 69 combined.
In fact, of every current Heat player averaging at least 15 minutes per game, no one has missed more than seven games (Shane Battier).
They can also rejoice in knowing they're not the New York Knicks. Not just because their core isn't depleted by injuries, but because they're not the eldest convocation the NBA has ever fielded.
A few players (Chris Andersen, Allen, Battier, etc.) have plenty of miles on those legs of theirs, but the Heat's core, their terrific triumvirate, contains just one player over 30 (Wade).
Should the Heat begin resting their Big Three for the playoffs?
Still, so many want them to slow down. They would have the Heat essentially tank what little is left of the season in fear of injuries that haven't even taken place.
Me and any other common-sense enthusiasts, though? We want to see LeBron, Wade, Bosh and company do what they're paid to do, which is play.
We want the Heat to try to do what they've done all season, which is win.
And we want them to reject any methodology that beseeches them to do otherwise.
Fear doesn't win championships, dedication does.
Given the opportunity, like the one the Heat currently have at hand, it can also make history at the expense of the Lakers, too.
*All stats used in this article were compiled from Basketball-Reference, Synergy Sports, 82games.com and NBA.com unless otherwise noted.