Miami Heat looks to sweep New York Knicks, rest
NEW YORK, May 06, 2012 (Menafn - The Miami Herald - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --Heat forward Shane Battier leaned back into a courtside seat inside Madison Square Garden and pointed to a specific spot on the palm of his right hand. Moments later, a team trainer wrapped his hand in ice.
An observant reporter asked the obvious question: After going 0 of 6 from three-point range in Game 3, perhaps Battier had an undisclosed injury. Cagily, Battier laughed off the question.
"If you don't have ice all over your body at this point then you were doing something wrong during the season," Battier said Saturday after the Heat's final practice before Game 4 against the Knicks.
The Heat leads the first-round series 3-0 and can sweep with a victory Sunday. Considering the rash of high-profile injuries around the league, the Heat is looking at Sunday's game as an opportunity to not only trounce a postseason rival in four games but also to earn valuable downtime before the start of the second round. While teams like the Magic, Bulls and Hawks find themselves limping through the first round, Miami has managed to remain injury free. The Heat would like to keep it that way.
"A little bit of luck mixed with preparation -- those things keep you healthy and we're fortunate to have our whole team," said Heat forward Chris Bosh, who missed practice Friday to be with his wife and newborn but took a plane to New York from Miami on Saturday morning to attend practice.
To a man, each Heat player Saturday called the condensed season that led up to the playoffs the most demanding of their careers. It's "no coincidence," Bosh said, that after such a tough regular season teams' star players are breaking down in the playoffs.
"The schedule was brutal," Battier said. "I know the commissioner doesn't think the injuries are related, but I tend to think a lot of soft-tissue injuries we've seen this year were due to lack of rest and recovery."
NBA commissioner David Stern said Monday that he didn't think injuries to some of his league's brightest stars -- Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard, for example -- were a product of the hastily conceived schedule the NBA threw together following the lockout. The players see things differently.
"That's the biggest thing," Battier said. "There was no time to recover this year. But until you actually go through it, you don't understand what we speak of. It was a tough year physically."
Given the grueling regular-season schedule, Bosh called the chance to earn some time to rest "huge."
"That's why [Sunday] is so big for us," Bosh said. "For one, it gets us off of our feet but we also get some time together on the court. We haven't had much of that time.
"[Saturday] was great. [Friday] was great for the team. But if we could have four days, five days where we could rest and get our treatment, recuperate and watch film and get better on the court and work on our chemistry. I think that's even better."
The Heat has coasted through the first three games of its series with the Knicks, but Miami is prepared for a resilient opponent Sunday at Madison Square Garden. Knicks forward Amare Stoudemire, who missed Game 3 after lacerating his hand punching a fire-extinguisher box in Miami, is a game-time decision but the Heat expects him to play.
"Days off are always important but this a dangerous team that we got [Sunday] and more importantly than days off that's why we want to close it out," Heat swingman Mike Miller said. "Because if you keep these guys around, they're dangerous offensively."
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