MIAMI: The external focus was on the No. 1 playoff seed in the Eastern Conference and Friday’s showdown with the Indiana Pacers at AmericanAirlines Arena, but the focus inside the Miami Heat’s locker room increasingly has been on the team’s inactive list.
In recent days, it is a list that has included Dwyane Wade, Udonis Haslem, Chris Andersen and Greg Oden. The length of that list has left some long faces, especially those required to push through the resulting extended minutes.
“I want to get healthy,” forward LeBron James said of the roster, with the team given Thursday off. “That’s all that we care about, man, going into the postseason healthy. We got more problems as far as health issues than the number-one seed.”
Coach Erik Spoelstra said Wade, who went through an extensive on-court workout prior to Wednesday’s loss to the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum, is just about over the hamstring issue that has had him out the past eight games, since the Heat last played the Pacers.
“He has to pass a battery of tests before we take him to the next level,” Spoelstra said.
There are, of course, no tests for mental fatigue.
“There’s some sense of worry, of course,” James said. “For the most part this season, we haven’t played too many minutes together. You can have some type of worry about that. But I’d rather worry about us being out there together than not. Our team is built on everyone being together on the floor. Once everyone gets back, we’ll get everything rolling.”
For James, the lack of available bodies had him playing 41 minutes Wednesday on the second night of the back-to-back set that began with Tuesday’s home loss to the Brooklyn Nets.
“It is what it is,” James said. “I don’t make no excuses, man. It’s been tough on all of us.”
As for mental fatigue amid the spate of injuries, Spoelstra doesn’t want to hear it.
“We’ll be fine,” he said. “I mean, that’s a crutch that any of us can use when we don’t find a way to win. OK? Did anybody have mental fatigue, or physical fatigue, in the third quarter, when we were up four, six, and then all of a sudden it shifts? That’s a common excuse in pro sports.
“We love the position we’re in. Nobody else is in this position, to have to deal with serial success of the last three years. We’re not using it as an excuse. We don’t expect anybody else to make an excuse for it.”
Center Chris Bosh said it is a delicate balance.
“We are in a very unique position,” he said, “where just have to make sure we do what we can to win. We don’t want to burn ourselves out trying to do that. But I think we can get it done without burning ourselves out mentally and physically.”