With 1 game left, Heat already entering playoff mode Print
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Tuesday, 17 April 2007 13:24
NBA Headline News

 MIAMI (AP) -Heat forward Eddie Jones raised an eyebrow in mild amusement when Someone mentioned the importance of the regular-season finale at Orlando on Wednesday.
No disrespect to the Magic, but the Miami Heat are thinking instead about potential first-round foes Cleveland and Chicago.
``Coach has really gotten us focusing on things we need to try to work on right now to face whoever we're going to play in the playoffs,'' Jones said. ``Don't get it wrong. We know we have a game (Wednesday) night in Orlando, but we also know the fact that the playoffs are a totally bigger stage and we have to be ready for it.''
Heat coach Pat Riley had 14 players available at practice Tuesday, which is newsworthy simply because of all the injuries that Miami has endured over the first 81 games. Only James Posey, who sprained his left wrist and shoulder in Miami's loss to Boston on Monday night, couldn't work out - yet he's still expected to be ready for the playoff opener this weekend.
``I think he's going to be OK,'' Riley said.
Still, Miami likely won't use its full complement of healthy bodies on Wednesday. In last year's final game before the postseason, Riley had starters Dwyane Wade, Shaquille O'Neal and Jason Williams sidelined to get some rest, and it's conceivable the same could happen this year.
``What's important is getting ready for the playoffs, getting them healthy and conditioned and mentally ready and focused for the playoffs,'' Riley said as his team pedaled away on stationary bikes after Tuesday's practice. ``That's one of the reasons they were on the bike before practice today and on the bike after practice. ... They may. They may not.''
Wade, who missed 23 games with a dislocated left shoulder after the All-Star break and has been slowed by knee pain since returning last week, said either scenario - rest or no rest - represents ``a win-win situation.''
``I wouldn't mind playing,'' Wade said. ``At the same time, I wouldn't mind sitting.''
Whatever happens, the Heat certainly won't be using their playoff rotation on Wednesday. Posey was still hurting on Tuesday; X-rays taken Monday night were negative, but the team didn't have him go for an MRI exam - a sign that they believe the injury isn't serious.
``I'll do everything possible to get ready,'' Posey said. ``It's sore. Tough sleeping last night for the most part.''
Miami will be the No. 4 seed when the playoffs open, but the Heat will enter the postseason without home-court advantage because their record is worse than the Bulls and Cavaliers.
And although the Magic have beaten the Heat in all three meetings this year, that couldn't be more irrelevant to Miami these days. When the final horn blows Wednesday night, the postseason - and the long-awaited chance to defend a championship - will have arrived, and that's what Miami's workouts are all about right now.
``There's a lot of little things that if you don't repeat on a regular basis, you don't execute,'' Riley said. ``We're going to get all of these things clarified by either Saturday or Sunday. Today was a day in that direction. Tomorrow, we'll do more.''
 

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