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Restless Miami Heat anxious for a return to court

By the looks of Shane Battier’s face, the Heat has way too much time on its hands these days.

Battier showed up to practice Wednesday at AmericanAirlines Arena with the beginnings of a mustache worthy of a 1980s casting call. With such a long break between series, he will probably resemble Tom Selleck by the time the Heat plays its next postseason game. The Heat doesn’t begin its second round until Monday, which gives the team seven full days off.

“It’s hour to hour,” Battier said of his moustache’s status. He didn’t expect his wife, Heidi, to appreciate the new look.

“I’m the closest thing to a frat boy that this team has,” he said.

Too much idle time during the playoffs is potentially problematic for the Heat, and not just because it has players as superstitious as Battier. With another poor shooting effort in a series, his facial hair and general hygiene could completely spin out of control.

But an even greater concern to the team than the untidiness of Battier’s handlebar mustache is the extended layoff that could affect the team’s conditioning.

“I really don’t like a lot of rest,” LeBron James said. “I like to play either every 48 hours or 72 hours, so it’s difficult but it is what it is. We took care of business in the first round. It will allow some of our guys who had a lot of bumps and bruises in the first round or the end of the regular season to recover this week.”

Weeklong breaks are rare during the course of an NBA season, when players are used to playing every other day.

With the long break, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has decided on a practice schedule of two days on and one day off.

The Heat focused on conditioning Monday. Tuesday was a little tougher.

Spoelstra ran the Heat’s players through a “hitting” practice with Udonis Haslem saying afterwards that he felt “like I am 32 years old today. Definitely gonna need a massage tonight.”

The Heat will not practice Thursday.

“This is where our work habits have to come in,” Spoelstra said. “You can’t get too far ahead of yourself and everyone is anxious and ready to play, but we have to focus on the moment. That’s right now.”

While Spoelstra apparently hasn’t lost his edge since sweeping the Bucks, the same can’t be said for his players. James defeated Ray Allen and Chris Bosh in another game of around the world and made the losers do push-ups. Bosh was handed 30 push-ups for third place. Allen was stuck with 20.

“I’m gonna beat you next time,” Bosh joked as James walked to the locker room.”

“Um, no you’re not,” James replied.

Dwyane Wade sat out the majority of another practice after watching from the bench during the Heat’s Game 4 victory over the Bucks. When the Heat begins the second round against either the Bulls or the Nets, Wade will have had nine full days between starts to rest his barking right knee.

The NBA announced on Tuesday that the Heat’s second round would begin on Monday regardless of when the first-round series between the Bulls and Nets ended. While the extra off days might not be the best scenario for a team itching to get back on the court, Wade certainly will make the most of the additional time.

Wade did not participate in the Heat’s contact drills, but Spoelstra added that his injured starting shooting guard is “still making progress.” Wade went 1 of 12 from the field with four points in Game 3 against the Bucks.

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