Heat Stars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh out Tonight vs. Cavaliers

Tim KeeneyContributor IApril 15, 2013

Feb 23, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Miami Heat center Chris Bosh (left) forward LeBron James and guard Dwyane Wade (right) during the playing of the national anthem prior to playing the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center. The Heat defeated the Sixers 114-90. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The dynamic trio of the Miami Heat will not play against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night, as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have all been ruled out.

Forty-year-old Juwan Howard, who has logged a whopping 14 minutes this season, will start for the 64-16 Heat against the Cavs. It will be Howard's first start since he was a member of the Portland Trail Blazers in 2010, as revealed by ESPN's Brian Windhorst:

The absence of Miami's big three shouldn't come as a shock. With just three days remaining in the regular season, the Heat have first place in the East locked up and are doing whatever they can to assure their stars are completely rested for the playoffs.

After missing six games in a row, Wade played a total of 71 minutes over the weekend against Boston and Chicago, quickly shaking off the rust against the latter.

James, meanwhile, has paced himself in April. He missed two games to start the month, then played two against Philadelphia and Milwaukee before sitting out against Washington and once again returning for two wins against Boston and Chicago.

The sporadic play hasn't affected his MVP-caliber play, either, as he is averaging 24.8 points on a staggering 69.1 percent shooting to go with 6.0 rebounds and 6.8 assists this month.

As for Bosh, this will be his fourth DNP of April.

Many will wonder if this irregular playing time will affect the Heat's chemistry come playoff time, but they've won with and without their stars. If anything, these past few weeks have proven that they have better depth than originally believed. There should be little question that they will be ready to defend their title. 

Meanwhile, as the last few days of the NBA season prove to be mundane when playoff races are already decided, there is nothing like a little Howard vs. Tyler Zeller to inject some excitement.