Can Miami Heat Afford Rest While Pushing for Home-Court Advantage in Playoffs?

Jimmy Spencer@JimmySpencerNBANBA Lead WriterMarch 29, 2013

Feb 1 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) sits next to guard Dwayne Wade (3) on the bench during a game against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeats Miami 102-89. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat are so inconsistent—they’ve now lost two of their last 29 games.

Somehow though, LeBron James and his guys will bounce back.

The Heat tower over the Eastern Conference and hold an 11-game lead above the No. 2 seed New York Knicks. Home-court advantage in the Eastern Conference is sealed.

But despite not losing for 52 consecutive days, the Heat only hold a two-game lead over the San Antonio Spurs, leaders of the Western Conference.

For Erik Spoelstra, there’s no reason to hit the brakes.

If Miami goes into hibernation in an effort to rest for the postseason, it will give credence to the theoretical too-early peaking caused by the streak. It would prove that the streak actually did distract from the team’s championship hopes.

Instead, Miami needs to continue pushing through the team’s final 11 games.

The weakness of the Eastern Conference allows enough time to relax.

It’s not as if the Heat are going to be tested through long seven-game battles in the early rounds of the Eastern Conference playoffs. The team can rest after a four- or five-game series victory against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Spoelstra should be smart with his minutes though, resting James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Ray Allen and the invaluable Shane Battier whenever the team is cruising.

Press the gas only when needed.

The Heat have just four games left against opponents with records of .500 or above, while the San Antonio Spurs face eight more teams with winning records. That, in conjunction with the current two-game advantage, should provide the Heat with plenty of reasons to be confident.

The two teams meet on Sunday, which will be as intriguing as a potential Finals matchup and meaningful in the battle for home court.

Still, it may not even be the Spurs that the Heat need to worry about.

The Oklahoma City Thunder, with just four of their remaining 10 games against winning teams, are creeping up on San Antonio. The Heat currently have a 3.5-game lead over the Thunder. No other teams are in reach.

Plus, it isn't certain that home-court advantage is a difference-maker.

The Thunder defeated the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals last season despite the home court belonging to San Antonio. Then, the Thunder fell to Miami despite Oklahoma City’s home court in the Finals.

So if you’re Spoelstra, just stick to the dominating script.

The Heat don’t want to change a thing. It’s the rest of the league that needs to adjust.


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