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Saturday, April 21, 2012
Spoelstra: Everyone is a 'game-time' call

By Michael Wallace

MIAMI - Heat coach Erik Spoelstra would only guarantee one person's role on Miami's roster for Saturday's home game against the Washington Wizards.

"I'll be here," Spoelstra said after the Heat's morning shootaround at AmericanAirlines Arena. "I'll be coaching."

As far as everyone else on the team?

"Everybody will be a game-time decision," Spoelstra said. "We'll see."

With four games left in the regular season and exactly a week before the start of the playoffs, Spoelstra said numerous factors will determine how he handles the rotation and availability of star players. Above anything else, it also sounded like LeBron James might soon finally be afforded some much-needed rest.

James, who has played all but one game this season, said Saturday he would oblige if Spoelstra was compelled to sit him out for any of the Heat's remaining games. Miami completes this weekend's back-to-back home set with Sunday's game against the Houston Rockets. The Heat wrap up the regular season with a trip to play the Boston Celtics on Tuesday and the Wizards on Thursday.

"Whatever Spo says, I'm going to go with tonight," James said. "You know me. I always love to be in uniform. But Spo put everybody at a game-time decision tonight. I'll see what he says. He'll probably text me later or I'll see him when I get back to the arena early to get my work in. So I'll go off him."

That's a bit of a change from the stance James took a few days ago when he said, jokingly in part, he wouldn't go with a plan to sit out games if he felt good on a particular night. Meanwhile, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have taken advantage of what Spoelstra has referred to as the Heat's "maintenance program" to rest players or help them recover from nagging injuries in time for the playoffs.

Either Wade or Bosh has missed four of the past five games, and both skipped Wednesday's game against Toronto. James, however, has pressed on through recent minor injuries that have included a sore ankle and a dislocated finger. At times, James has made it seem as if he hasn't been offered as many "maintenance" opportunities. At other times, James has suggested he wouldn't comply by sitting if asked.

Spoelstra said he will consider everything before he decides how Miami approaches the rest of the regular season. The Heat entered the weekend on a five-game winning streak and sit one-and-a-half games behind Chicago for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

"I'm going to continue to evaluate everything, every 24 hours - take everything into consideration," Spoelstra said. "The standings, playing well, working on rotations going into the second season (playoffs), building momentum, our guys' health, rhythm, everything. So there are a lot of different variables, but we want to continue to push forward. We want to keep on improving before next weekend."

Wade, who has missed five games this month, said Saturday he has benefited from the recent rest in the midst of league's 66-game truncated schedule that started in late December following the labor dispute.

"I can't say it's been crazy physically for me, but it's been more challenging," said Wade, 30. "Physically, it's been tough. I never thought I'd look forward to an 82-game (traditional) season. I can take these 66 games in an 82-game calendar year. When you get older, you want as much rest time, as much recovery time as possible to get out there."