IT is down to the last 1 or 2 games left, and in the last few games the Heat played they lost 2 and won 1. They won the game with Bron but lost the game led by Wade (due to injury) and lost the game led by Chalmers and Battier. This has been a part of the Heat’s “maintenence” plan or whatever… to rest the big guns for the post-season.
This regular season has been unusual of course, it’s been a 66 game compressed schedule and this team came out hungry out of the gates. By mid-year they were just on a crazy roll and in many ways they just kind of hit the breaks.
After playing some more relaxed basketball in the second half they struggled a little but you would be dishonest if you did not say that they had some very good success and some ‘signature wins’ as well.
Now, what worries me going into the playoffs is this, it has been a shaky second half of the year. Things that were promising at pre-season did not really pan out for the Heat. Things such as the Heat’s youth movement did not pan out. Sure, Harris and Cole had their moments but the work really needed to come in the frontcourt and it looks like the Heat bet on Rex Pittman. Very little was seen of Gladness and Curry.
Now, is Pittman going to give you solid minutes in the playoffs? It doesn’t look like that is the case at this point anyways.
Instead, the Heat went with the emergency signing of Ronnie Turiaf and I think this is a move that will pan out nicely as Turiaf has a ton of the intangibles that the Heat like… but the youth movement was nothing more than a minor amusement.
A microcosm of the Heat’s development and season can be seen in the play of Norris Cole: hot early, not-so-hot late.
Now, I’ve used the marathon metaphor before when wondering about Spo’s tight rotations throughout the year. Surely the guys would need to pace themselves before getting ready for the hard sprint to win it all. I wondered about resting the big guns by giving more minutes to the bench. Even though Spo was blowing smoke and hating the concept of rest, it looks like he went to the other extreme and has guys sitting out games to rest.
This can give you 1 of 2 results:
The good result would be that the players would have an extra fresh bounce in their step in the playoffs and get back to that killer play that they exhibited in the first half of the season. This puts stock in the theory that this team is predicated on the success of the big 3 and that the importance of gelling with the role players is of minimal importance.
It’s not like the role players have been getting extra rest as well, they have been continuing to go at their pace. So the maintanence really is going to the major parts of the engine and not the whole engine.
The negative result would be that (and going back to the marathon metaphor) the Heat would have started walking instead of keeping pace, bringing a disturbance to the overall pace of the run. What does this mean? Basically that the team would not be able to find a comfortable groove to it’s game in time to be able to play at it’s best level.
Examples of this include adding Zo to a strong Heat club right before the start of the playoffs in 2001 and adding Jameer Nelson to start at PG right before the finals in 2009.
But the big difference here is that the Heat have played well with this group of players and are familiar with each other so that theory may not apply in this scenario, yet the worry of stopping it’s pace instead of slowing up remains a theoretical possibility so it cannot be ignored.
Anyways, all questions will be answered soon enough and I cannot wait to see how it all goes down.