MIAMI // Thursday was originally intended to be a somewhat relaxing day for the Miami Heat. A quick meeting. A team dinner. A bit of rest after the grind of 82 regular-season games and a long night of travel home from Toronto.
The NBA schedule-makers had other plans.
When the post-season schedule was released, the Heat got a bit of a surprise: Game 1 against the Philadelphia 76ers is set for Saturday, and that meant coach Erik Spoelstra needed to trim 24 hours of preparation time from his plans for the play-off opener.
"It's a quick turnaround," Spoelstra said in Toronto on Wednesday night after Miami finished a 58-win regular season by topping the Raptors 97-79. "We were expecting a Sunday game and it ended up being a Saturday afternoon game. We're going into our preparation (Thursday) afternoon ... to start this process of getting ready for Philly."
In fairness, that process already started. The Heat did some work on the 76ers in Toronto, hours before the regular-season finale. Eddie House scored a career-high 35 points, Juwan Howard added 18 and Miami beat Toronto with the second seed in the East already secured.
At that shootaround practise, Miami stars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all participated.
In the actual game against Toronto, they did not. "They legitimately are nicked-up right now," Spoelstra said. "We have to look at the big picture."
Even with the "Big 3" on the sidelines, Miami wrapped up the NBA's third-best record with the lightly used Jamaal Magloire returning to his hometown to grab 19 rebounds, something only nine other Heat players had ever done in a regular-season game.
The Heat will have home-court advantage in the play-offs over any team, except Chicago or San Antonio. "A day of rest," Bosh told Toronto radio station Fan 590 after the game. "That was the best thing for us."
RESULTS (home team in CAPS):
BOSTON 112 NY Knicks 102
CHICAGO 97 New Jersey 92
CLEVELAND 100 Washington 93
DALLAS 121 New Orleans 89
Houston 121 MINNESOTA 102
ORLANDO 92 Indiana 74
Detroit 104 PHILADELPHIA 100
Milwaukee 110 OKLAHOMA CITY 106 (OT)
UTAH 107 Denver 103
Miami 97 TORONTO 79
CHARLOTTE 96 Atlanta 85
GOLDEN STATE 110 Portland 86
LA CLIPPERS 110 Memphis 103
PHOENIX 106 San Antonio 103
LA Lakers 116 SACRAMENTO 108 (OT)