MAY 21, 2013
Q: Do you think we'll see more Mike Miller against the Pacers? Aside from 3-point shooting, he is a good rebounder and ballhandler. He could be valuable, especially if Dwyane Wade is ineffective or hurting. -- David.
A: While Miller certainly remains Plan B if Wade is unable to play, I have another hunch, which might prove moot if the Heat continue their current roll that has them with 45 victories in their last 48 games. But what about Rashard Lewis? He would supply shooting on one end and length on the other. For all those times when Erik Spoelstra said he could see a possible postseason moment for each member of his roster, that moment could be at hand for Rashard, who is yet another element the Heat did not have for last season's series against Indiana,
Q: Why the contrast between scheduling between the Western Conference and Eastern Conference? Memphis and San Antonio will be through Game 2 before we even get started. That's ridiculous. -- Michael
A: It's because ABC had to have a Sunday game. And rather than have the Grizzlies sit idly in San Antonio, they instead built the break into that schedule after the second game, so each team could spent the intervening time at home. Heat-Pacers will complete its second game before Game 3 of Grizzlies-Spurs in Memphis on Saturday night.
Q: Ira, good column on the Bulls and the Heat. Anytime anyone starts talking up Pat Riley as being some sort of a genius, I always point to his awful judgment on drafting Michael Beasley second overall in 2008 and passing on Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love. -- Jack.
A: Riley ultimately felt corned into taking Beasley, but he knew from the get-go there was a clear, singular top pick in that draft, in Derrick Rose. Still, you have to give him credit for recovering from that and actually finding a taker to unload Beasley on, in the Timberwolves. The Heat recovered from the type of error that can penalize a team for years.
MAY 20, 2013
Q: OK Ira, should we be worried about Dwyane Wade's ability to play Lance Stephenson? Stephenson just looks so much more athletic than Wade. -- Teresa, Miami.
A: First, don't overstate one game. Yes, Lance looked world class on Saturday night, but the way his teammates and coach gushed tells you how surprised they were, how atypical the performance was. Yes, if Stephenson plays as well as he did in Game 6 against the Knicks and if Wade plays as middling as he did against the Bulls, then a significant advantage would be lost for the Heat. But those are two sizable "ifs." The reality, at least to this point, is that Lance Stephenson on his best day is not the player Dwyane Wade is on his most pedestrian of days.
Q: Wow, the Spurs look complete. I did not expect them to control Memphis so completely. Sure it's only one game and in San Antonio, but the Spurs are formidable at both ends. -- Chet.
A: But the Grizzlies haven't won an opener this postseason, so let's see how it plays out. Now, if the Spurs put together another rout on Tuesday night, then Heat long-range thoughts certainly could turn in that direction, considering Spurs-Grizzlies will have gone two games before the Heat even open the East semifinals.
Q: Sure the Pacers are a better team this year, but I'm tired of hearing how they pushed the Heat last year. Did people forget that Chris Bosh barely played in that series (plus the Heat played with a hobbling Wade)? C'mon people. -- Ryan, Naples.
A: So the Heat basically are injecting Bosh, Chris Andersen and Ray Allen into last year's mix. I agree, that's a considerable net gain. Yes, the Pacers are rough and tough, but they still will have to find a way to score.
MAY 19, 2013Q: The Pacers will be a tough opponent and the Heat need to do better on the boards than they did against the Pacers in the regular season. Can you see a possible Chris Bosh/Chris Anderson tandem at times if rebounding becomes an issue? -- Martin.
A: I think everyone has to get over the rebounding numbers with the Heat, especially when it hardly was an issue in the second round against the Bulls. The Heat have proven they have enough with what they're offering along the front line. Could Bosh and Birdman play together? Sure. But there also will be continued attempts to get David West out of the paint by playing Shane Battier. Heck, there might even be a spot in this series for Rashard Lewis. It will be fascinating, as Heat-Pacers seemingly always is.
Q: I'm not sure why I wanted Indiana over New York, the Pacers have a ton of large talent. -- Chet.
A: Because they have anyone who can get as insanely hot as Carmelo Anthony. Even when the Pacers are playing at their best, it usually still is a grind-out game. Yes, Paul George is terrific, but the Pacers don't have that player who can beat you on his own. The closest they come, at least when it comes to the matchup against the Heat, could be David West. Danny Granger certainly never was that player in this matchup.