OKLAHOMA CITY – The difference between the NBA Finals starting in Oklahoma and starting in South Florida was a single game in the standings. But the Miami Heat say they have no second thoughts about an organizational decision that likely cost them homecourt advantage.
The Thunder owned the tiebreaker with the Heat but Miami held a lead on Oklahoma City heading into last week of the regular season. But the Heat decided to rest their front-line players down the stretch, resulting in losses in three of the final four games. It included two losses the Washington Wizards, who finished the season with the second-worst record. The Thunder played their stars until the very end.
“We had to, we had to get guys healthy for the long haul,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Tuesday afternoon. “Health was the No. 1 issue. That last week was really critical for the second season.”
At the time Chris Bosh, who sat out the last six games of the regular season, had a hamstring issue. Dwyane Wade, who sat out five of the last six games, was nursing a dislocated finger and a sore knee. LeBron James also sat out the three games the Heat lost in the last week.
“You value homecourt but there are always a lot of variables,” Spoelstra said. “And our health was the biggest variable at that time.”
Last season, the Heat rested their three All-Stars for the final game of the regular season and were able to get a victory in Toronto. That win ended up being the difference in getting homecourt advantage against the Dallas Mavericks in last year’s Finals. The Mavericks, though, won that series anyway in six games. Partially because of that, the Heat say they have no regrets.”
“We had opportunities throughout the year and we didn’t seize certain ones,” Wade said. “Our fate is in our we play, not necessarily being at home. It doesn’t guarantee winning, it doesn’t guarantee a championship.”