Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE
Should Dwyane Wade face off against John Wall on Saturday night or is rest more vital now?
In another installment of the Heat Index's 3-on-3 series, our writers give their takes on the storylines before the Heat host the Wizards (16-46).
1. Fact or Fiction: The Heat should prefer the No. 1 seed over No. 2.
Tom Haberstroh: Fiction. At this point, the matchups matter more than an advantage you may never use. While the fans would love to see the Heat crowned as the regular season East champs, that's not much of a banner. Turns out the more coveted seed is the No. 2 because it avoids a potential matchup against the darkhorse Boston Celtics.
Michael Wallace: Fiction. This is largely a fan issue. Heat players watch the standings and catch the games that will decide the final seeds in the East. Coach Erik Spoelstra also updates them each day. But I don't get the sense that Miami is really worried about which team it will face - or its potential path - to the NBA Finals. As Spoelstra said Saturday, "We feel we can beat anybody anywhere." That said, would drawing Philly in the first round instead of New York cause fewer potential headaches for Miami? Of course it would.
Brian Windhorst: Fiction. If you talk to most basketball people they will say that homecourt advantage is vital. Not just because you get a Game 7 at home but also because you get to start the series at home and get the chance to take control. This year I think it has less appeal for two reasons. One is that the nature of the season puts a premium on rest over seeding, especially for the early rounds. Two, despite the Pacers strong finish the Heat are better off on their side of the bracket than the Celtics. Who knows if this will be true by mid-May. But for now, avoiding the Celtics seems prudent.
2. Fact or Fiction: Udonis Haslem should be the starting C in the playoffs.
Haberstroh: Fiction. Play the matchup. Against the Sixers? Joel Anthony makes more sense as the starter. Against the Knicks? Udonis Haslem's floor-spacing is critical. I don't see a reason to etch the playoff starter in stone. All else equal, Haslem might be the option that makes the most sense, but a fluid lineup isn't as bad as it seems.
Wallace: Fact. The Heat are 5-1 since Spoelstra made the move to insert Udonis as the starter. A lot of factors go into those results, but you can't dismiss the fact that Haslem is arguably the best rebounder on a team that desperately needed to increase its production in that area. Although Haslem's offense has been inconsistent throughout the season, his defense has been solid. His experience, knowledge of the system and willingness to do the dirty work should alleviate at least some of the pressure on Chris Bosh.
Windhorst: Fiction. Only because I don't care who starts. What the Heat need from Haslem is consistent rebounding, which is almost always the case, and at least the threat of his mid-range jumper. The second one has not been a constant all year. It seems like the plan is to leave him the starter even when Ronny Turiaf is healthy. I predict he'll be in the finishing lineup no matter what.
3. Fact or Fiction: Of the Big Three, LeBron should rest the most going forward.
Haberstroh: Fact. The other day he said he wants a game or two off. He hasn't gotten one yet. They're playing with fire at this point if they don't rest him. He's due.
Wallace: Fiction. There's no doubt that LeBron has carried, by far, the greatest burden. But his durability is probably his biggest strength. Sure, it would be smart for Spoelstra to rest LeBron for at least two of the final four regular-season games. But I also believe Dwyane Wade needs time off more than the other two. He's at a different stage of his career and even admits his body just doesn't recover between games as well as it once did. This season's hectic schedule obviously plays a huge role in that.
Windhorst: Fact. Erik Spoelstra's actions (reluctantly, if you've listened to his news conferences) showed that he agreed with me that Heat players needed rest down the stretch. But he continues to ride James and pretend that fatigue wasn't a major reason for last year's Finals performance. For some reason he just won't give James a break despite James hinting that he'd accept it. There have been a couple chances over the last two weeks and Spoelstra has passed. I don't agree. I'm quite strongly on record on this one.