It got even shorter when forward James Jones couldn't play against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday because of a migraine headache, not told to news reporters before the game. And it got shorter still when Heat coach Erik Spoelstra gave limited minutes to reserve forward Mike Miller and reserve center Joel Anthony in the 105-94 loss to the Thunder.
"I'm going to have to see who's really available," Spoelstra said. "Going into this game we were going to try to keep a tight rotation — maybe not as tight as it was — and give this our best shot. But I'll probably try to go a little bit deeper in Game 2."
For the fourth consecutive game since returning from a lower abdominal strain, forward Chris Bosh came off the bench. He scored 10 points in 34 minutes. It would seem he would return to starting in Game 2.
Miller played 10 minutes and had two points. Anthony played two minutes and had no points. Guard Norris Cole, who gave the Heat solid minutes in some games against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals, didn't play at all.
"We'll have a day of rest, (and) guys will be ready to go on Thursday," Spoelstra said, suggesting Jones will be ready for Game 2 (9 p.m. ET, ESPN).
It's not the first time Spoelstra has reduced bench minutes — it happened in the second half of Game 7 against the Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals. Bosh played 31 minutes off the bench in that game, and four other reserves (Miller, Cole, Jones and forward Juwan Howard) combined for eight minutes, 57 seconds.
The lack of bench play puts stress on the starters, who logged significant minutes. Forward LeBron James played 46 minutes in Tuesday's loss, guard Dwyane Wade 42 and forward Shane Battier 42.
"We know we have to have more production, for sure," James said. "We're going to have to have more guys in there to give me and DWade a rest. And Shane. Shane played a lot of minutes.
"But Spo will figure that out. We'll be more conscious about it, just trying to get a minute or two here or there so we can finish strong, but I don't think it was much of a problem."