Wade sitting out last game for Heat

After the 80th Miami Heat game of the season, Dwyane Wade and

Udonis Haslem had so many icebags strapped to their bodies in the

postgame training room that coach Erik Spoelstra did a double-take.

So for the 82nd and final game, Spoelstra – mindful of seeing

his captains packed in ice – gave them the night off.

Let the playoff preparations begin.

Although Wade said he wasn’t being held back by any injury,

he, Haslem and Jermaine O’Neal all sat out Wednesday’s game against

the New Jersey Nets. The move wasn’t surprising even though the

game had plenty of meaning for the Heat, who came into the final

day not yet knowing if they’re heading to Atlanta or Boston for the

first two games of the playoffs.

“We legitimately have guys that are banged up and they can

really use this rest,” Spoelstra said. “If this extra day can help,

if at all, it really was an easy decision. I think this day, today,

was critical. They’re spending a lot of time, not only resting but

getting treatment.”

James Jones was slotted into the lineup in Wade’s place. Joel

Anthony started again for O’Neal, who has been bothered by ankle

and knee problems for the past couple weeks. Haslem is Miami’s top

reserve.

Wade said it was a “mutual” decision to give him the night

off. He will finish the year as the league’s fifth-leading scorer,

at 26.6 points per game.

“I mean, it’s a great season,” Wade said. “One more game

left. It’s going to be a good night to give a lot of guys an

opportunity to play that’s worked very hard. Now we can prepare for

the playoffs, something that we’re all excited about.”

The Heat will finish the season as either the No. 5 or No. 6

seed in the Eastern Conference. A win over the Nets on Wednesday

would lock up No. 5, sending Miami into a first-round series

against Boston.

Should Miami fall to No. 6, it would face Atlanta in the

first round for the second straight season. The Hawks won in seven

games a year ago.

“Guys are banged up,” O’Neal said. “I mean, guys have been

playing over the last month with multiple injuries and stuff like

that, so I think it’s important to get ready. The people that are

questioning the rest, how would they feel if somebody went out

there tonight and got hurt and couldn’t play in the first round? I

think we have a team that has enough rhythm to play. ”