After playing six games in nine days to start the new year, the Miami Heat get a bit of a break.
They will be five days between games when they resume their road grind by playing the Wizards at Washington on Wednesday.
That will be the first of a four-game stretch against Eastern Conference foes that features yet another back-to-back chore for the Heat, who played on consecutive nights twice last week and have done so three times in the last 15 days.
After facing the Wizards, the Heat go to Philadelphia on Friday and Charlotte on Saturday. They take off next Sunday (Jan. 19) and are at Atlanta the next night before finally getting home for their next four games.
Upon his return to Miami after Friday night’s 104-95 double-overtime loss to the Nets at Brooklyn, a game in which he fouled out in the closing seconds of the first OT, Heat all-star forward LeBron James took time to answer questions from fans posted on Twitter (thanks to foxsports.com).
Among the funniest exchanges was this one from @thorpjoshua:
“How do I get my baby to fall asleep?”
James’ answer: “Put my performance in the 2011 Finals on! Night night immediately.”
You may recall the Heat lost to Dallas that year, James’ first in Miami, losing their final three games after taking a 2-1 lead.
Among the serious basketball questions was one from @ArshDrizzy asking why so many great players are getting injured.
James confessed that he didn’t know, that he couldn’t remember it being “like this in years past,” and that it was bad for the game.
Not coincidentally, James’ Heat team was missing three starters (Dwyane Wade, Shane Battier, and Mario Chalmers) in the loss to the Nets, Wade to give his knees a rest and Battier and Chalmers with injuries (quad strain and Achilles strain, respectively).
The Nets themselves were without center Brook Lopez (out for the rest of the season after foot surgery) and guard Deron Williams (sprained ankle).
It wasn’t surprising that Wade sat out the game against the Nets. His appearance the night before in the loss to the Knicks in Madison Square Garden was his fourth outing in six nights.
Chalmers hasn’t played since the win over Toronto. He was in for only 15 minutes in that game and has sat out the last three entirely. Battier hasn’t played since Jan. 2 in the loss to Golden State, missing the last four games.
Overall, the Heat have had only one player appear in all 37 games so far this season. That would be guard Norris Cole, who started the five games Chalmers has missed, including the last three.
It isn’t such a huge step down when Cole steps in for Chalmers. He scored a season-high 18 points against the Nets and drilled the tying basket near the end of the first overtime. He adds energy on defense as well.
But if he and Rashard Lewis, who has started in Battier’s spot, are in the starting lineup, it means the Heat’s bench is stretched too far at times.
With Ray Allen starting for Wade instead of coming off the bench, the Heat got only 10 points from subs in the nine-point loss to the Nets. (Allen has been in a bit of a slump in recent outings, going a combined 8-of-40 from the field in his last six games, but that’s fodder for another story.)
Against New York, the Knicks got more points from one player, Amar’e Stoudamire, off the bench (14) than the Heat got from all four subs they played combined (13).
Whether that is bad for the game depends on whether you are rooting for the Heat or not. But it’s definitely not good for the Heat.