Congratulations, Miami Heat! You are not going to be the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Your players do not want it enough, your fans do not care, your team chemistry isn't that strong, and your coach isn't the type of taskmaster who can demand stars to shred their legs.
And despite it all, this could be a Godsend. You were built for the playoffs, not for regular season grinds.
Teams with granite fortitude have strong centers and point guards who can control the pace (San Antonio and Chicago). Those are the Heat's weakest positions.
Teams that put up consistent defensive efforts have strong backup players in roles 6-9 (Philadelphia, Oklahoma). Miami's backup players are a patchwork of injured veterans and rookies.
Coach Erik Spoelstra wants consistency and no excuses. But his team was built for speed and dazzle. In order to get that from the lineup, they need rest. Rather than stomp around the court and scream like his mentor Pat Riley, he should take a Zen page from another legend, Phil Jackson.
During the Lakers' championship season, Coach Jackson was faced with a moody big man who would take nights off and a shooting guard who could take over a game and then go 2 for 20 the next day. Yet Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant found a way to multiple championships because Jackson paced them during the regular season.
He wasn't running the Chicago Bulls, who were driven to extreme defensive precision by superstar Michael Jordan. Here, Jackson was dealing with inconsistent greatness.
Rather than shout and scream at them when they weren't performing, he would take them aside and talk to them, let them have an occasional night off.
There were games were it seemed like he never got up from his seat as the Lakers would be blown out by a lottery team. He would shake his head and reserve his energy for when it counted.
The Miami Heat have the epitome of inconsistent greatness in LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. One has issues with his head and the other with his body. And Coach Spo is not going to change them at this stage in their careers. They are grown men set in their ways.
Rather than try to fit them into the grind-it-out old school coaching, it's time for them to go to the beach. Wade gets a chance to rest his legs and James can rest his nerves the last two weeks of the season.
Bosh can take time off to work on their respective jumpers and spacing on the floor. After the all-star break he has lost his way. Bosh is getting pushed farther and farther away from the basket, he's not getting rebounds, and his shot selection has been questionable.
Yes, the Heat can beat any team in the league. Despite being mediocre in the second half, they have won impressive games against Oklahoma and Dallas. They can beat the Bulls in the playoffs when healthy and focused, and no other team can turn it on both offensively and defensively with spectacular plays.
But James, Wade, and Bosh are too headstrong to admit that they need the last two weeks off. Spoelstra, Riley and the Heat organization need to make that decision for them.
None of the Big 3 should be playing more than 30 minutes throughout the last part of this season.
It's time to give Terrell Harris a shot at extended time, time to let Udonis Haslem regain his jumper and time to figure out if this Eddie Curry experiment is ever going to work.
They can even draw up some plays for Ronny Turiaf to see if he can be the type of center capable of giving a 10-10 night every once and a while. Mike Miller should be played only because it takes him a while to get comfortable on the floor, and he appears to be too gun shy when he's well rested.
Remember when Dwyane Wade came back from that extended rest earlier in the season? He was explosive on court: dunking, stealing passes and Euro-stepping over hapless defenders. The Heat will need that type of Wade in the latter rounds of the playoffs when facing Chicago and, if they're healthy enough, to get back to the Finals.
They can't get the same Wade they had last year against Dallas: throwing his body around like an exhausted rag doll, searching for the Finals ignition and finding that his gas tank was empty.
But that changed during the Finals. James was emotionally questionable, waiting on others to pick up the slack. Bosh was equally ineffective as he was pushed out of his space, blocked out of rebounds and had the ball stripped from him frequently.
The Miami Heat have inconsistent greatness and killer speed. Unless Chicago has an epic collapse, they're probably not going to be the No. 1, but fortunately they don't need seeding. Their stars can play on the road and in the clutch when pushed.
They're not going to need a deep rotation in the 4th quarter situations. They need fresh, focused superstars. The playoff success of the Heat will be determined in these last two weeks. They will either expend their energy on trap games or let it go.
At the end of the year, teams like Detroit and Charlotte have nothing to lose. This is their playoff season. The coaches on losing teams will have their players flying around, dunking and playing with Kamikaze intensity.
In these next two weeks the Miami Heat will either recharge their battery or waste more energy to prove to doubters that they're tough. Coach Spo needs to have confidence that they're tough enough when it counts and when they're rested. Break out of the deep tissue massages, rejuvenating spa treatment and snazzy suits.
Today, superstars, for better and worse, need to be pampered during grueling schedules. Even the yeoman-tough Bulls have figured this out and sat Derrick Rose far longer than they needed to because they realized he was going to run himself into the ground.
It's time for the Miami Heat to hit the beach and begin thinking about the postseason.