Over the last two years, LeBron James has had to carry the load for the Miami Heat. He is the best player in the world and that is what he is supposed to do, but that isn’t why he came to Miami. When LeBron signed with the Heat it was to play alongside two other superstars in Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. This would allow all three of them to rest throughout the game and even take nights off during the season.
Since the start of the 2011-12 season, Wade has missed 30 games either because of injury or maintenance. In that same amount of time LeBron has missed 10 games, and in his three seasons with the Heat he has missed only 13 games. When the Heat give one of their “Big 3” a night off, they usually give it to Wade because he is older and has suffered numerous injuries in his career.
During the 2013 playoffs, Wade’s surgically repaired knee started aching and he struggled to produce for the Heat. Wade missed a game in the first round and finished the playoffs with a scoring average of only 15.9, which is his lowest in any postseason and well below his career playoff average of 23.7
The entire offseason there has been speculation that if Wade can’t prove that he is healthy LeBron will opt out and leave. The thought of having to carry an aging and hobbled Wade would cause him to search for a better situation. While all this speculation was going on, Wade was working with Tim Grover, his former trainer to get him down 15 pounds and work on rebuilding strength in his knee. He had another round of the OssaTron shockwave therapy on his knee, which extended the careers of Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan.
Wade did not look like the Wade of old to start the season. He seemed out of rhythm and going through the motions until Thursday night against the Los Angeles Clippers. Wade scored 29 points on 13-of-22 shooting and was the only starter with a positive plus/minus. LeBron James has been hampered with a back injury and it has slowed him down this season. His numbers are down across the board and it looks like he may need some time to rest.
In previous seasons LeBron has been unable to rest and unwilling to take nights off. When he has missed games it has been at the end of the season with the Heat coasting into the playoffs and resting their rotation guys. However, with Wade starting to resemble the 2006 Wade again, LeBron could feel more comfortable taking a 10-14 day break and allowing him to be at full strength for the postseason. Erik Spoelstra needs to take the decision out of the hands of LeBron and force him to rest during a two week stretch where the Heat don’t play many games and play against non-contending teams.
From November 16 through December 3, the Heat play the Charlotte Bobcats and Orlando Magic twice and the Toronto Raptors, Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers , Atlanta Hawks and Detroit Pistons. With LeBron they would probably go 6-3 at worst in that stretch. Without LeBron they could win all of these game and at worst go 4-5. These losses would be acceptable to get him back to 100 percent and allow Wade to be the best player on the team again for two weeks.
This rest may cost LeBron a regular season MVP award, but it will allow him to be healthy enough to get his third ring and third Finals MVP.