San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is notorious for saving superstars Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili during the regular season to keep them fresh for the playoffs. The Spurs even tried to make it look funny by using Duncan’s advanced age as the reason for his absences. Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra seems to be following Popovich’s lead by saving star guard Dwyane Wade this month.
Don’t be fooled by Wade’s “ankle injury” the Heat are reporting. It may be true that Wade has a sore ankle, but if the Eastern Conference playoffs started today he’ll be in the lineup for sure. Spoelstra is obviously saving Wade for the postseason. Wade may be feeling some discomfort, but it shouldn’t be enough to keep him out of games.
Resting players is a tactic coaches use often, and it has become so en vogue this season because of the compact schedule. However, the move has repercussions.
Keeping Wade out of the lineup also denies paying customers the opportunity to watch him play, not to mention the millions of Fantasy basketball league owners who are on the verge of a nervous breakdown because they can’t use a valuable player such as Wade in the most important weeks of the Fantasy season.
On April 1, Wade plays 35 minutes against Boston but sits out the April 3 game against Philadelphia. He plays 36 minutes against Memphis on April 6 but sits out against Detroit on April 8. He plays 41 minutes against Chicago on April 12 but sits out against Charlotte on April 13. He plays 35 minutes against New York on April 15 but sits out against New Jersey on April 16.
Wade is clearly healthy enough to play all the games this month, but the Heat have decided to use the “injury” card to keep him healthy for the playoffs. That’s good for the Heat, but bad for the consumers. Commissioner David Stern has address this issue because it is affecting the business side of the NBA. If Wade is really injured, then he should miss a week or two. The Heat shouldn’t be allowed to select the games he misses. It’s unfair to the fans and it’s bad business for the NBA.
Joel Huerto is the editor and publisher of OneManFastBreak.net. Follow him on Twitter @onemanfastbreak.