So the Heat polished off the outmatched Charlotte Bobcats (RIP Bobcats, hello Hornets) in Game 4, and now... they wait. The 2-seed Heat will face the winner between Toronto and Brooklyn in the second round, but that series won't wrap up for at least another five days and could leave the Heat with a week of rest if it goes seven.
So that's great, right? More time off for a tired and injury-plagued team? More time to scheme and plan, to get right?
Except, history kind of shows long layoffs aren't great for the Heat. In the three seasons since the Triad came to Miami, they've won the first round 4-1, 4-1, and 4-0 last year over the Bucks (shout out, "Bucks in six"). In the past two years, they've lost the first game of the second round after a long layoff. Particularly, last season, after a long layoff following their beatdown of the Bucks, they were trounced in Miami by the Bulls. The Heat went on to win 4-1 because, well, the Bulls were badly outmatched.
But while it's just a three-game sample, there is a level of stagnation that sets in when this team has a lot of time off. They went 1-1 in the regular season with four or more days off. And considering they'll likely be playing a team coming in with considerable rhythm off of the win, that's not a great combination.
Especially daunting is the possibility that the Nets -- with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, familiar foes who have nonetheless never toppled the Heat in the playoffs since the start of the Triad era -- could be the opponent in that Game 1. A veteran team, with momentum, coming in against a flat Heat team? That could be trouble.
And the Heat won't be pushing themselves much to practice or stay in rhythm. They value the rest, value the time off, value the recuperation. It's going to be a light week, as it was last year before the Game 1 loss to the Bulls.
It's a good problem to have, but it bears paying attention to. The Heat often struggle with firing up the engines immediately after they've gone cold for a week.