MIAMI – Heat coach Erik Spoelstra does not want to hear it. He’s not thinking about the approximately 18 hours between the conclusion of tonight’s home game against Toronto and tipoff for Sunday’s game in Indiana.
You play the schedule you are given. But this schedule unquestionably puts the Heat at a disadvantage.
Here are the facts:
* The Heat are playing a home-road back-to-back games against a team that is off the night before. OK, that happens.
* The Heat have an 8 p.m. start tonight with a 6 p.m. start Sunday against the Paces, after losing an hour because the clocks are moved ahead for the start of daylight savings time. The 21 hours between start times is the fewest of the Heat’s 15 back-to-backs this season.
* The Heat then must travel about 1,025 miles, the second longest trip for consecutive games behind the Nov. 14-15 games in San Antonio and home against Atlanta. They will land between 4-5 a.m.
* The Pacers played in Milwaukee Friday and the game ended about 10 p.m. Indiana will have 31 hours of rest including a one hour trip. Miami has 18 hours of rest with a three hour trip.
“Who cares?” Spoelstra said Friday. “We’re not even thinking about Sunday. We have to focus on tomorrow. We can’t get ahead of ourselves.”
Which is the expected response. But the players know what’s ahead, especially considering the magnitude of all games this time of the year and the second being against a Pacers team that sits sixth in the East, just two games ahead of the Heat.
Still, the theme following Friday’s practice: No excuses.
“It’s tough,” Goran Dragic said. “But I feel like that (Raptors) game is going to be really important for us. If we win that game, after you win you feel better. Those back-to-backs are not easy, but we never shy away from our responsibilities. We never use excuses. We’re not going use excuses even for that game. We’re just going to come there, do our routine, try to prepare ourselves as much as we can and try to perform.”
Said Dion Waiters when asked if this was a difficult back-to-back: “Yeah, but we can’t make no excuses. It’s the NBA. It’s a grind, that’s what it is. This last month, just grinding and getting it done by any means. So we can’t make excuses.”
The Heat have played 12 back-to-backs this season. They have split five of those, lost both four times and won both three times. They are 5-7 on the second night.
This is just the third in which they have played home and then away. They lost both games (Knicks, Hawks) once and won the first and lost the second (Lakers, Pelicans) on the other.
James Johnson said he has not played two games with such short rest “since AAU,” but admitted you deal with it.
“You got to dig deeper within yourself and pull out that savage that everyone of us has in this locker room,” he said.