The Miami Heat have already clinched the Eastern Conference's No. 1 seed in the NBA playoffs. It should be no surprise that the team is trying to get fully healthy for the postseason, and it is doing so by limiting stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade from being in the starting lineup.
It may be cliche to say, but rest can only help Miami's two biggest stars with the playoffs less than a month away.
For 3rd straight game, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers expected to sit Friday vs. Charlotte. Ray Allen also expected to sit.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 4, 2013
As they sometimes say, when the cat is away, the mice will play.
Miami fans had to feel that wrath for the past couple of games, especially against the New York Knicks on Tuesday night. The Heat survived the San Antonio Spurs in the first of what figures to be a few more holdouts of James and Wade, but got the full brunt of New York's ire on Tuesday.
Carmelo Anthony poured in a career-high 50 points against the Heat on Tuesday, starting up dialogue on what could be one of the best NBA playoff series in recent memory should the two teams both make it to the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Knicks beat the Heat by 12, but the level of urgency from the Knicks is likely much higher than Miami. The Knicks are trying to hold off pressure for the No. 2 seed in the East and have some serious competition from the Indiana Pacers.
Miami, not so much—it's a clear 10 games ahead of the rest of the field. Sit back and relax, James and Wade. You guys have both earned it. Remember, the NBA Finals mentality is now firmly entrenched in every single one of the players on the Heat's roster.
The playoffs are just more important than any all-time win-streak record.
In fact, it might be a blessing in disguise that the Chicago Bulls ended Miami's streak in late March.
What does Miami's playoff future hold?
LeBron is one of the league's most productive players. At 37.9 minutes per game, he rarely comes off the court for one of the league's best teams. Wade has gotten more rest because of the arrival of Allen and strong play of Shane Battier, but he is also injury prone and doesn't need any added mileage with the season's toughest basketball still ahead.
If the streak was still intact, it's hard to say that the ultra-competitive James and Wade would want to miss any games—even if playoff rest was the upside. It would have taken all of Miami's regular season games to reach 34 in a row, a number that motivated the team during its inspired two-month perfect run.
Nothing but good things can come from a few days off.
While James, Wade and the rest of the Heat's key cogs rest up, the team might not be a championship contender. Remember that more important days are to come when the depleted-looking team takes the court on Friday night, and enjoy the fact that Miami is one of the few teams that has the luxury of resting its best players on a moment's notice.