March 28, 2015
Q: Packing the paint is the new defensive strategy against the Heat. -- Mark.
A: I agree that non-Henry Walker floor-spacers have to be a priority in the offseason. So much of what the Heat did/do is based on spacing the floor with the type of 3-point shooters who used to be in abundance. Now it's basically Luol Deng and Goran Dragic or bust, and both are more valuable to the Heat when they're doing other things, whether it is Deng cutting without the ball or Dragic attacking the rim with the ball. The volume of 3-pointers in Friday's 99-86 loss in Atlanta was nothing short of absurd, with the Heat 11 of 35 from beyond the arc. While the Heat seemed to tire of one-trick types like James Jones, there is something to be said about having someone like that (like the Hawks have in Kyle Korver) to play off of the post game of Hassan Whiteside and the penetration of Dwyane Wade and Dragic. I'm pretty sure they still have Ray Allen's phone number. There also has to be a realization that the 3-point shots are open for a reason. And there has to be an offensive system capable of getting more than 3-point shots. Of course continuity has plenty to do with any offensive system. Without available post players (with no Hassan Whiteside, Chris Andersen, Chris Bosh and Josh McRoberts) any chance of vertical spacing is lost.
Q: Ira, with Kevin Durant's surgery, would teams move up and spend this summer? Instead of 2016, could they look at Goran Dragic? -- Emily.
A: First, I don't think anyone but the Thunder or his hometown Wizards ever were in the running for Durant in 2016. Actually, I think more teams could be in play for Durant in 2016 now, with a team that otherwise might not have had a shot now stepping up and still offering a max-level contract, even amid the uncertainly with this latest surgery. But 2016 always was about more than Durant. It was about the massive amount of salary-cap space that will come into play before of the new broadcast deals. That's not to say Dragic is necessary a lock with the Heat, who could find themselves on pins and needles for the second consecutive July. In games such as Friday's, it's concerning how the Heat weren't able to get Dragic more involved. Three teammates had more than his 11 shots,
Q: When will out bad luck with injuries end? -- Mel.
A: Well, as Erik Spoelstra said before Friday's game against Atlanta, it always could be worse. The Heat are confident Chris Bosh will be back next season. The Thunder can't be as sure with Durant. Of course now there are renewed concerns with Wade's knees. And that significantly raises the level of worry.
March 27, 2015
Q: I just don't understand why Tyler Johnson is not part of the regular rotation? Have him back up Dwyane Wade at shooting guard. Have Mario Chalmers back up Goran Dragic at point guard. Then go with the hot hand down the stretch. -- Carlos, Miami.
A: While Johnson often has been dynamic when given opportunities in limited bursts, his energy sometimes can also, at least at this stage of his career, make him a mistake player. And with the Heat's margin for error so limited, it is among the reasons why his opportunities have been limited. Beyond that, the Heat have been at their best when playing a three-guard rotation with Wade, Dragic and Chalmers. And the reality with Chalmers is that he has been far better when playing in attack mode, more as a shooting guard, the type of role you have suggested for Johnson. As in the playoffs, this is the time of season when teams in the heart of the playoff race tighten their rotations. So, for now, Johnson likely remains on the outside of that rotation, unless one of the primary guards is sidelined, as was the case Wednesday in Boston. But if the Heat can afford to play small, I do think Johnson could make sense in the games when Michael Beasley is off with his shot or his offense.
Q: Michael Beasley didn't do well in the last two games, but come on, Ira, this team needs someone who can create his own shot. Where is the patience you preached when Henry Walker's shots weren't falling? -- Patrick, Hollywood.
A: I have absolutely no issue with Michael Beasley being in this rotation amid Erik Spoelstra's lack of options. But the reality the past two games has been the Beasley has been more liability than benefit at the ends of close games. Getting beyond Walker's 3-pointers or Beasley's struggles, Walker simply has made the proper plays more often. At this time of the season, that can mean more than a made shot or a missed shot.
Q: Why do you think Pat Riley passed on picking up another power forward or center? If, for example, Zoran Dragic is sent back to Sioux Falls, could someone fill in his place or would he technically still be on the Heat roster? -- Vince, Cooper City.
A: As long as Zoran is under contract with the Heat, with his deal running through next season, he would count against the 15-player roster limit, whether he is in Miami or Sioux Falls. So for those calling for the Heat to add another player (which I certainly could understand amid the deficit in the power rotation) who would you release (considering how much Zoran's presence could mean toward retaining Goran)? In place of James Ennis? In place of Tyler Johnson? In place of Henry Walker? In place of Michael Beasley? Each of those players either has contributed something meaningful lately or has the promise to do something meaningful going forward.
March 26, 2015
Q: Goran Dragic is a special player. He’s smart and plays hard. The Heat must sign him. How about Micky Arison buying him LeBron James' old home? I heard the price has come down. -- Chet.
A: I think Goran would prefer the cash. And he'll get it, because the Heat have no other choice. But what makes Dragic special is that even as a star with star-level skills, he still is a hustler. He doesn't have to dive for all those loose balls, but he does anyway. He is the rare All-Star who leads with all-out effort. That was exactly what the Heat needed Wednesday night in Boston, and through three quarters his motor was what fueled the Heat. What this team also needs is someone who can finish at the 3-point line with the type of dagger that mutes the types of rallies the Heat have faced the past two nights.
Q: Why would anyone want our Heat to make the playoffs with a losing record? That's embarrassing. Then just get trounced in the first round. Why? -- Jorge.