The Miami Heat’s gruelling journey towards a third straight NBA title hasn’t been gruelling at all. It’s very early, of course, but thanks to an improved bench, head coach Erik Spoelstra has managed to significantly lower his star players’ minutes. Per the Miami Herald: “So what else could derail the Heat besides Indiana, injury or the Western Conference champion? There’s the exhaustion theory, the one articulated by TNT analyst Steve Kerr during the summer when he predicted that Miami will not three-peat because of the physical and mental toll of playing so many playoff games over a four-year period. Kerr speaks from experience, having played on Michael Jordan’s Bulls teams that won three championships in a row from 1996 to 1998. The Heat’s reaction to Kerr’s theory has run the gamut, from dismissiveness to an acknowledgement that this journey will be more difficult than anything previously. ‘I mean: Who comes up with that?’ Spoelstra said of that theory early in the training camp. ‘Our competition is trying to drive that narrative. We have a highly motivated group of guys. If you don’t have passionate guys, then mental fatigue” could be a factor.’ Point guard Mario Chalmers also disputes Kerr’s notion: ‘I don’t buy that at all. Steve Kerr did it, so why can’t we do it? We’re a very strong team. We added two great pieces in Greg Oden and Michael Beasley. We have a lot more pieces to keep us from wearing down.’ [...] It’s very early, but the Heat has shown no signs of fatigue or malaise so far, and Spoelstra has kept players fresh by playing his stars fewer minutes and making ample use of his bench. LeBron James is averaging a career-low 35.2 minutes, down from 37.9 last season and 39.6 in his career. Chris Bosh is averaging 28.5 minutes, by far the lowest of his career and down from 33.2 last season. And besides sitting out three games to rest his knees, Dwyane Wade is averaging more a minute per game less than last season (33.6), which is the second lowest of his career. ‘That’s extremely important,’ Bosh said. ‘Our second group has done a magnificent job this year and made our jobs a little easier. It’s making it easier on us not having to play a lot, especially early.’”