December 11, 2013
Q: Ira, the players can say all they want about the meaning of Tuesday's game, but what say you? Who has the better team: the Pacers or the Heat? -- Bruce, Kendall.
Q: Ira, you keep telling us that Spoelstra will change the lineup if he has to. Shane Battier barely scored, had only one rebound and still started and played 15 minutes Tuesday. I know others who write here have been bad-mouthing Udonis Haslem, but even would have been a better choice Tuesday, even in the second half. -- Steve, Pembroke Pines.
A: I think something will have to be done to address the Roy Hibbert and David West dynamic. But perhaps Erik Spoelstra is playing it coy, using these four regular-season meetings against the Pacers as a laboratory to formula his playoff answer. I also would like to see if Michael Beasley would be willing to bang in such a matchup and could make the proper rotations.
Q: Are the Heat regretting letting Mike Miller go now that Wade is still not percent? -- Danny, Miami.
A: Well, if you saw Mike's latest haircut, probably not. Look, the move never was made as a basketball decision. It was pure luxury-tax economics for a 10th man. Could the Heat use Mike? Sure. But not at that price point. If Mike's absence costs the Heat a championship (and I'm not exactly sure how you quantify that), then you can say the financial decision proved costly. But, again, Micky Arison has the right to spend money how he does or doesn't choose.
December 10, 2013Q: If Dwyane Wade is having this much of an issue with his knees that he has to sit a quarter of the games so far, would it not be a better idea to shut him down for a while, let him rest and heal up properly, and then bring him back with enough time to get ready for the second half of the season? -- Geo.
A: First, I don't think Dwyane "has to sit." I think it's a prudent decision being made from time to time with the training staff. The reality is this is what the next stage of rehab following shock-wave treatment requires, to play your way back, but never to the point of pain or discomfort. And when he has played, he has played well. The timetable is for something closer to knee restoration (or as restored as possible at this stage of his career) from the OssaTron treatment in six months. Considering he had the procedure in July, then January is when the absences should go down and the productivity up. Or at least that's the hope.
Q: Will Roger Mason Jr. start to consistently get more playing time? I just don't see how, barring injury, of course, he can get any sort of regular playing time. -- Jeremy, Hollywood.
A: This was the plan all along, and Roger knew it coming in. He is the emergency fifth guard, required only when Wade, Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole or Ray Allen aren't available. It is why Erik Spoelstra said it requires a special player for the role, knowing that minutes might not be there for extended stretches, and then could come in extended clumps. It is why Roger's performances in Minnesota and Detroit were so encouraging.
Q: Ira, Kyle Lowry is truly available, don't you have to make an offer to a team willing to tank the season? Canadian hero Joel Anthony and Mario Chalmers fit the bill perfectly for the Raptors. -- Howard, Stuart.
A: Except, for this team, I think Mario is a better fit, someone who doesn't get in the way of the offense, shoots only when needed. I think Kyle is more of a Norris Cole type, and the Heat already have one of those.
December 9, 2013
Q: I'd rather watch the Heat rest and experiment than try to keep up with the Pacers looking for home-court advantage in the playoffs. Let's see what David West looks like in April. -- Tony, Oceanside, Calif.
A: It really doesn't matter other than what Erik Spoelstra and Pat Riley want. Look, the Heat are trying to win every game; they're just being cautious with their veteran roster, something that is not as acute a concern for the younger Pacers. I don't think the Heat ever have made a top seed their make-or-break goal. It has just been a byproduct of where their record has landed them. This team has proven it can rise to the moment on the road, need be. Arriving to the postseason rested is the priority. Seeding simply doesn't rate as high as Dwyane Wade on two healthy knees. But Frank Vogel knows his team, as well, and I'm sure also would err on the side of caution. The Heat could wind up with the best of all worlds with the Pacers' No. 1 seed-or-bust approach, with so much space ahead of No. 3 in the East that they could settle in at No. 2 with weeks left in the season.
Q: Is Chris Bosh even going to make the All-Star team this year? -- Kevin.