December 12, 2013
Q: I hope Greg Oden gets some playing time next Wednesday night. I would put him in for a few minutes, put him in a position to succeed, have him block a shot, or grab a rebound over Roy Hibbert, and then remove Greg. Then, don't play him again vs. Indy until the playoffs, just to give Indy something to think about all season long. -- Martin.
Q: I never thought I'd say this, but you can see how Michael Beasley would make a major difference against teams like the Bulls and Pacers. An athletic power forward makes Carlos Boozer and David West play defense and takes them out of their comfort zone. Whoever the Heat start at the four, be it Udonis Haslem or Shane Battier, offers little offense. Beasley has feasted off of put-backs and taking his man off the dribble, something no other big can do on the Heat. I understand the defensive liabilities, however. -- Howard, Stuart.
A: And you know what? It could turn in Beasley's direction . . . if the Heat see the needed defensive consistency. Remember this: The Heat's playoff rotation rarely has been decided months in advance of the playoffs.
Q: If Chris Bosh were used in a more diverse way, maybe the Heat take care of business without having to rely on a Game 7 against Indiana or a Ray Allen 3-pointer in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. -- Richard.
A: And if Chris Bosh is planted in the post, maybe LeBron James never develops and exploits the post-up game and maybe Dwyane Wade doesn't slash to the rim without the ball quite as often. The Heat's entire approach is an interlocking scheme: Change one element and everything changes. So is there that much of a need to change a championship formula?
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.
A: I think Indiana has the greater depth of talent, and Paul George is now the second-best player on the court in the matchup behind LeBron James, which wasn't necessarily the case when the teams met in the playoffs in 2012. I think, as always, for the Heat it comes down to the play and contributions of Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Remember, there are no back-to-backs in the playoffs, and there often is significant time off between series. So for all of Indiana's depth of talent, are the Pacers going to cut the minutes of Roy Hibbert or David West to get Luis Scola on the floor. And we still haven't see how Danny Granger will impact the scenario, which we may see when the Pacers play in Miami next week. For now, we're still waiting to see if Greg Oden can change the dynamic (Hibbert thinks he might) and whether Michael Beasley can add needed offense to the Heat mix against the Pacers, after being held out Tuesday because of his hamstring issue.
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.