WASHINGTON -- The Miami Heat sacrificed home-court advantage in the later stages of the playoffs so they could focus on getting their key players some rest and to let some minor injuries heal. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all sat out Thursday against the Washington Wizards in the season finale.
Overall, James has missed three of the past four games, Wade sat out seven of the past 12 games and missed nearly all of another game to handle a handful of minor injuries, and Bosh missed the past six games to treat a hamstring injury.
How successful was it? This is not truth-telling season when it comes to health. The Heat players say they're ready for Saturday's start of the playoffs and will all start. Just how healthy they are will be seen at the time.
After going through a nearly two-hour workout Thursday morning complete with a series of wind sprints to close it out, a sweat-soaked Bosh described his hamstring as feeling "awesome." There was more than a hint of sarcasm.
"I'm just trying to keep the conditioning level up and like before we're trying to stay on top of it and make sure it doesn't turn into a serious problem," Bosh said. "So right now I'm just looking forward to the playoffs and just trying to be as close to 100 percent as possible."
The severity of Bosh's injury is not clear and that is purposeful. The Heat kept it quiet for more than a week by masking it on their injury reports. That's not unheard of -- teams are not under obligation to report injuries like in the NFL. But it seems like Bosh wasn't thrilled he'll start the playoffs after not playing for 12 days.
"I would rather play, I would rather play but I've just been trying to keep my mental focus sharp," Bosh said. "That's been my challenge and it will continue to be my challenge. It could be an easy thing to just starting worrying what's happening and what's going on."
Wade also hoped to get more playing time before the end of the season. After taking some games off earlier this month because of some leg injuries, Wade wanted to play a few games down the stretch. But a finger injury last weekend prevented that. He has been able to practice the last three days.
"Obviously it's not ideal," Wade said. "I was really looking forward to playing a couple games. But I know my game and we've been getting in some good practices and we'll be ready."
James, who asked the team to give him a few days off at the end of the year, said he is surprised with how good of shape he's in. Though he took three games off in the final week, James only missed one game this year because of injury.
"If you told me before the season when there was 60-some games in 120-some days, I wouldn't have believed I would've made it through with missing just one game with injury," James said. "I felt good the last few weeks. Individually I think I've played some of the best basketball I have as a professional. Physically I'm ready for the postseason. I have a few nicks and bruises but for the most part I came through well."