While the past weeks headlines were dominated by thrilling round one match ups, you could be forgiven for thinking the Miami Heat had fallen off the face of the earth.
In one of their most inconspicuous preparation to date, (even more quiet than last season due to the majority of opponents going the distance in their 7-game series) the talk has once again been focusing on Miami’s resting period.
The NBA schedule is grueling. Teams fly from city to city, in the most horrific of hours, they practice in gym after gym, from the cold to the heat. The regular season can allow a team to plan and to prepare; each athlete knows what lies ahead. The playoffs however are anything but and now can be the period a player goes into their own head more than ever.
It's been eight days since Miami played when they last destroyed the hopes of the Charlotte Bobcats with a four-game sweep. Still the question remaims; who wins the momentum over rest argument? Considering the the Nets only knew they were headed into the second round yesterday and with only having left Toronto last night, tonight's game against Miami will again test the theory - does rest ruin momentum?
Firstly before we begin, wer'e forgetting this has all been done before. Attempting to win their way into the Finals for a fourth year in a row is now a routine for Miami, a regimen, a drill that has become part of this familiar campaign. Still, the Heat aren’t ready to take a side on the "rust or rest" theory. After their sweep of the Bucks last season they had a week off to let their bodies rest, to mentally prepare but then the Bulls dented the the this rest theory by beating Miami in the first game.
Considering the Heat contained the Bulls until they gave it away in the fourth hardly proves time off cost them the win. In contrast, when we look to the Spurs before last year's Finals, they had 10 days off and beat Miami at home in the first game.
While the Spurs and Nets both possess some of our games greatest, it's the Heat who've played more basketball than any human body would like. Since 2010-11, Miami have collectively played 81 more games than the majority, thrown in LeBron's stint in the 2012 Olympics along with the Big 3 playing in four consecutive All Star games and you begin to appreciate what it is this team has accomplished.
Sure this may not excuse some of the poor performances the team stung together during March but it certainly warrants one to cut them some slack. Now into their fourth year of restricted off-seasons and recovery time, the Heat continue their process which has served them so well in the past.
Even though Dwyane Wade comes into the season with a feeling reminiscent of last, still plagued by knee troubles, he appears more rejuvenated than last year. The the wear and tear that looked to trouble Miami's rotation throughout the back end of this season now feels a thing of the past. All the worries we originally felt about him in November have subdued, this time he looks refreshed and carries an aura of a man who knows what he needs to do to collect a fourth ring.
Despite the Nets having the 4-0 regular season over Miami, tonight's match has a range of scenarios. Those games however weren't the playoffs; Wade was out for two of them and the Nets weren't up against a team with their season on the line, let alone one that has the word "dynasty" surrounding it.
Tonight, the ongoing rivalry with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce will shift back to the days of old. The ones where Miami trounced the former Celtics, only now they'e tipped to beat them in Brooklyn colors. This resting period will again prove its worth and this time, they'll have managed it even better.