The Miami Heat quickly disposed of the Charlotte Bobcats, becoming the only team in the NBA to sweep it's first round opponent. Now, they wait for the second round opponent to emerge. The Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn Nets are tied 2-2 in their series and the Heat will play the winner.
Before it's over, the Heat will have at least 6 days of rest, or up to 8 days of rest before Game 1 of the Semi-Finals, as where the winner of the Raptors-Nets series will play in Miami with but a day of rest. So the old rest vs. rust theory will come out.
I am here to tell you it's a myth.
Last year, the Heat had 7 entire days off between the Round 1 sweep of the Bucks, and their opening Round 2 home game against the Chicago Bulls. The Heat lost Game 1 to Chicago 93-86 before winning the next four games. So, we are to assume the Heat were rusty, and that could have been the case. But the very next series, the Heat have 6 whole days off (virtually the same) and won Game 1 at home against Indiana.
Likewise, going into the Finals last year, Miami had only two days off from finishing Game 7 against Indiana and Game 1 against the Spurs. One would think rust wouldn't be an issue, well rest was and the Heat lost Game 1 to the Spurs.
The rest vs. rust debate is an old one, but it doesn't have much validity. I don't think anyone in the playoffs loses games so they can play another one to keep a rhythm. Every game is so important. Rest can hurt, rest can help.
For the Heat this year, I think rest is essential. Dwyane Wade has already come out and said he feels better than he has right now than the last two postseasons, which is great news in Miami. Wade missed 28 games this year, and so more time to get him stronger and healthier is better for Miami than anything else. LeBron James played a grueling regular season, and every player is welcoming the rest.
"We won't be able to get away from it for long. We understand what time of year this is. If the guys have any bumps, any bruises, you want to take care of that. When it comes to mentally and physically, you're going to want to do something. We'll take our day off (Tuesday) and then we'll go from there. Whatever coach decides to do with our team, we will follow his lead but we won't go far away from it all." -- Dwyane Wade
Will there be some rust? Probably, but nothing more than the first quarter of Game 1. Could that change the outcome of Game 1? Sure. But for the Heat, rest of the long haul will be more valuable to them. The series against the Bobcats wasn't very taxing for Miami, but a pending series with the Nets could be, and rest ahead of time, both physically, emotionally, and mentally will be valuable.
"You know we haven't had much rest like this before, so our rhythm and timing may be off. That is the challenge coach and everyone will have. We have been here before, we have learned some lessons from last year, and that is the best part of it. I think we will handle it better this time." -- Chris Bosh
The days off from games will give the Heat time to be at home with their families, and enjoy life without the mental task of game planning. It's a mini vacation (not really) within the playoffs which will likely not present itself again in the next month and half as the Heat quest for a third straight title.
This year, I think rest favors the Heat. What do you think?