Many will attribute Miami’s 93-86 Game 1 loss to Chicago on Monday to the seven days of rest the Heat had between its first and second round series. Can we blame the loss on Miami being “rusty,” “over-rested,” or given too much time between series, being punished for quickly finishing off the Milwaukee Bucks a week ago?
“There’s no excuses,” said Miami Head Coach Erik Spoelstra, whose team had not played in more than a week. “We’re not making any excuses for time off or anything else.”
To test a lazy analysis I’ll refer to as The Rust Theory, I looked at the average stats put up by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh when they’ve had at least three days of rest and compare them with not only their Game 1 numbers, but their career stats and splits as well. How was the Big Three impacted by a few extra days off in a Game 1 against a battered and short-handed Bulls team that has had minimal rest between series.
|LeBron James||Min||FG %||3 FG %||Points||Rebounds||Assists||FTA|
The problem with James is that he’s had one of the best single statistical regular seasons of all time, so any slight dip in that production is magnified. Against a strong Chicago defense, James only had a 24-8-7 line with numbers a shade worse than his overall career numbers and splits when he has three or more days of rest. On a night where the Heat shot under 40 percent from the field and under 30 percent from deep, it’s kind of hard to put the blame on James, even though that’s easy to do. James certainly wasn’t surprised by the loss.
“I’m not stunned,” James said. “This is what the playoffs is all about. We’re going against a really good team.”
It would have also helped if James got some support from some of his teammates. In addition to poor shooting games from Shane Battier, Ray Allen and Mike Miller, who combined to go 6-for-19 from the floor, Wade and Bosh didn’t help as much as they should have in order for Miami to beat a determined Chicago squad.
|Dwyane Wade||Min||FG %||3 FG %||Points||Rebounds||Assists||FTA|
Wade was severely limited on both side of the ball on Monday compared to his stats and splits across the board, including his numbers this season on long rest. Chicago is going to be in this series to win it if they out-rebound Miami by 14, as it did on Monday. Wade needs to contribute more in all facets, especially if and when the Bulls get Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich. Bosh is undoubtedly also to blame for the Game 1 defeat:
|Chris Bosh||Min||FG %||Points||Rebounds||Blocks||FTA|
Bosh is going to need to do a lot more inside against Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer. Down low is where Chicago’s only clear advantage lies in this series. If Bosh plays even with the Bulls’ bigs, Miami should have no trouble winning this series. Maybe Bosh was over-rested? More likely, he was just outmuscled by a team more determined to win. Jimmy Butler had 14 rebounds for Chicago on Monday. Joakim Noah had 11 rebounds, Carlos Boozer had seven and Marco Belinelli had seven. Bosh ended up with a sorry six, the sixth highest total among the 11 players who logged at least 25 minutes in Game One. Ray Allen and Mario Chalmers had more free throw attempts. If Bosh plays this way, Miami isn’t going to win. It’s as simple as that.
So to sum up the story pretty quickly, long rest isn’t to blame for the Heat’s loss. The team needs production out of its players not named LeBron James. Wade and Bosh can’t afford to coast against a confident team that has proven both physically and mentally tough. Bosh needs to limit Chicago on the glass, or Miami’s certain championship season will end in a shocking upset loss.
Shlomo Sprung loves advanced statistics and the way they explain what happens on the court. He is also the web editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. A 2011 graduate of Columbia University’s Journalism School, he has previously worked for the New York Knicks, The Sporting News, Business Insider and other publications. His website is SprungOnSports.com. You can follow him on Twitter.