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Dwyane Wade and LeBron James have a lot to talk about. Should they do it from the bench on Friday?
In another installment of the Heat Index's 3-on-3 series, our writers give their takes on the storylines before the Heat hostthe Bobcats (7-40).
1. Fact or Fiction: LeBron/Wade/Bosh all should get the night off.
Tom Haberstroh: Fact. Let's count the reasons why this is a no-brainer. One, the Big Three are coming off the most draining games of the season, both mentally and physically. Two, the Bobcats are maybe the worst team in NBA history. Three, a loss would have no effect on the playoff picture. Four ... must I keep going?
Michael Wallace: Fiction. I'd rest LeBron and Dwyane, but allow Bosh to continue to play his way into some form of rhythm. He needs the confidence boost. I'm really not in favor of inadvertently penalizing the home fans by allowing marquee guys to take the night off. It would be better to do something like that on the road. But it is what it is, as they say. A Bosh-led team should be enough to get past the woeful Bobcats. I repeat, should.
Brian Windhorst: Fact. The No. 1 seed in the East is gone, it belongs to the Bulls. The Heat have got to seriously start to consider getting their heavy minute guys some more rest. They have eight games in 11 days. They simply cannot go into the playoffs with their top three players tired from that stretch. I understand the coach is trying to piece together a rotation and a rhythm before the playoffs. But it won't matter if your stars have been ridden into the ground.
2. Fact or Fiction: Spo's turnstile rotation is a cause, not an effect, of Heat struggles.
Haberstroh: Fiction. He's an easy target, but the players aren't leaving Spoelstra with much of a choice at this point. What's Spoelstra's alternative? What, you want him to keep throwing Norris Cole out to the wolves? Not see what he has in Ronny Turiaf? Not get Mike Miller conditioned for the playoffs? Not try to find some semblance of scoring at the five? I get that James Jones should see some more playing time, but every supporting cast member has been absolutely dismal lately.
Wallace: Fiction. As long as LeBron, Wade and Bosh are on the floor, the Heat have enough to win games. It's missed free throws, hero-ball iso and late fourth-quarter no-shows that are the cause of the struggles. For the most part, you can mix and match the pieces around the Big 3 and there's not much appreciable difference. We've known that for two years. But it has the appearance of desperation to see Spoelstra searching so hard for answers at this stage.
Windhorst: Fiction. The reason he's been forced into this mode of throwing things against the wall is because he's not getting consistency out of his bench players. There is truth that you can't keep changing a player's role and expect him to adapt on the fly and Spoelstra has been changing roles violently recently. But there's got to be accountability from the players themselves. They have got to produce, all of them besides Norris Cole are veterans who signed with the team to execute in the situations they have been regularly failing in.
3. Fact or Fiction: The Heat are worse off than a year ago.
Haberstroh: Fact. But things can change quickly. They actually have Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller on the floor together these days, which couldn't be said this time last year. So there's that. But for all the talk about continuity and chemistry carrying over from last season, it's hard not to look at this downward overall trend and wonder: Are they Heat closer to square one now than they were in December?
Wallace: Fiction. Take a step back. Breathe. Relax. What exactly have the Heat lost so far this season? Everyone's relatively healthy. They're a top-two seed in the East. They're division champs. And they're still the team to beat in the conference, regardless of the recent missteps the past month. That's not to dismiss the struggles. I warned about the 10 burning issues facing this team a month ago. And all that said, the Heat's goals are still in front of them. Period.
Windhorst: Fact. A year ago the Heat finished the regular season 13-2 and it set the stage for the playoff run. The Heat are just 13-10 since the All-Star break and they have been one of the worst teams in the league on the road over the last two months. The results speak for themselves.