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Winderman: When bad teams tank, good teams get rest

Apr 18, 2012, 12:25 PM EDT

Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade AP

This is where the lockout grinder of a schedule has delivered us. Picking and choosing. With opponents. And with players.

Wednesday night, when the Miami Heat host a very awful Toronto Raptors team, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will be given the night off as part of coach Erik Spoelstra’s late-season “maintenance” program. No particular need to even define injuries at this stage.

Similarly, when the Chicago Bulls play at the historically bad Charlotte Bobcats, don’t expect to see Derrick Rose or Luol Deng.

To a degree, this may be nothing more than a case of rosters-by-TNT, with the cable network televising Thursday’s Heat-Bulls game.

And, yes, that is a game that still has meaning. Should the Heat win out (a possibility with a post-Bulls schedule that includes the Wizards twice, as well as the Rockets and Celtics) then one more Bulls loss (perhaps April 25 in the Pacers’ home finale) still could give the Heat the No. 1 seed in the East.

Stars on hiatus, of course, is nothing new in these closing weeks. Just ask Lakers assistant coach Kobe Bryant.

But part of it also is how awful the bottom of the league stands. This is not a case of tanking this season, this is epic tanking, tanking that practically deserves league intervention.

If the Raptors, Bobcats and other bottom-feeders weren’t so indifferent at this stage, then teams still with seeding at stake might actually have to play the players fans come out to see.

The solution would seem simple enough: David Stern should start swiping ping-pong balls, taking back some of those lottery combinations from teams that simply have quit on his sport.

That, of course, won’t be the case.

So instead we get games like Wednesday’s Bulls-Bobcats and Heat-Raptors, opening acts in advance of Thursday’s Heat-Bulls that are like an accordion player coming out to warm up the crowd for Springsteen.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at @IraHeatBeat.

  1. rajbais - Apr 18, 2012 at 1:16 PM

    No team should tank!!!!

    The lottery has only helped teams with or tied with the worst overall record FOUR times since the lottery’s insertion in 1985!!!!

  2. 1972wasalongtimeago - Apr 18, 2012 at 3:57 PM

    I think that whole article was written just so Ira could use that Springsteen line he’s been saving up.

  3. braven4evr - Apr 18, 2012 at 3:59 PM

    Tank or not; i hope Charolotte doesn’t get AD for Jordan to ruin.

  4. paulvista - Apr 18, 2012 at 5:03 PM

    The writer of this article either has never watched sports or just doesn’t understand them. In all sports at the end of the season their are few match-ups that matter. Come week 16 in the NFL and the preseason game of the year Super Bowl rematch turns into a game between a cellar dweller and a teams who’s bubble is so thin it pop before they stepped on the team. The only way to keep things competitive would be to let the league restructure the schedule come April. Why should we watch the Jazz and Cavilers play when only playoff worthy teams should play. I mean it would make fans of good teams and ban wagon scum balls to feel proud wearing their $300 jersey just to be cool. But what about real fans? What about that guy that will buy season tickets to every Warriors home game? Is he any less than a fan because he doesn’t blow LeBunk and every other mediocre hype machine David Stern throws out to make a few more dollars. No, in fact I respect a man that can say they like a bad team and still like them. Does a number one playoff team over the course of the season lose to teams who’s only chance of the playoffs were when the season started because everyone was in first place, yes. And losses to these bad teams is the upset the standings that bites you. Everyone though a couple Sundays ago Serf James and the other chumps would tromp the Celtics without Ray Allen. Yet Rondo drops the triple-double, the Queen and her jesters were laughed off and now losing to them again would cement the Heat out of the one seed. So although you may not get flashy every game, one game can affect more than just your interest. Anyone disagree/agree of in-between swrublevski@yahoo that’s the email to reach me.

  5. mrlitl - Apr 18, 2012 at 10:01 PM

    Yea but it was a nice line.

  6. glink123 - Apr 19, 2012 at 8:35 AM

    …and yet the Bulls still beat the Bobcats by nearly 40 points. without Rose. without Deng. To be fair, Deng has missed several games due to mangled tendons in his wrist, and Rose has missed nearly half of this season with a bucket full of injuries. To imply the Bulls are “tanking” games at this stage of the season is bush league journalism. but then again, consider the author.

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