Q: So now it's starting? Dwyane Wade looked fine in the fourth quarter against the Pacers, their big rival, then sits out before another back-to-back. Who can we believe? -- Rolf.
A: Believe that this season when Wade sits out, there are no strings attached, that he actually can't play. Instead of the Heat picking spots for Wade, this time they're letting his body make those decisions. But hamstrings are tricky, and a strain can become even more of a tear. The games simply are bunched too tightly to take chances. Already, the back-to-back against Milwaukee and Brooklyn looks tenuous. But, again, it will be Wade's body making the decision, not the Heat cherry-picking a schedule for him based on the calendar or the opponent. This is where a bit more depth at shooting guard (or a healthier Danny Granger) would have helped. By not starting Shannon Brown on Friday night in Atlanta, you have to wonder if the Heat are wondering about what's actually left with Brown.
Q: If you want a rookie to get better, you have to give him minutes. James Ennis started and played what, five minutes? -- Juan.
A: In all, after a rough early start, James playing 6:12 total against the Hawks. Look, this is not Shabazz Napier coming in off a pair of national championships at UConn, polished and ready to go. This is a raw talent whose previous prime time came at Long Beach State as well as in Australia and Puerto Rico. For now, James is better suited as a spark off the bench when needed, rather than someone stepping into the type of role that Spoelstra gambled with Friday. The reality is that time in the D-League, against a higher level of competition than Ennis faced at Long Beach State or in Australia or Puerto Rico also could prove beneficial once the Heat roster heals and is whole again.
November 14, 2014
Q: With Danny Granger coming back to the lineup soon, could you see him playing the four for long periods of time? His size and shot would really stretch the floor, like having LeBron James on the floor with Dwyane Wade handling the ball. I could see a really lethal lineup with Norris Cole, Wade, Deng, Granger and Chris Bosh. I think I could see Granger stealing the starting role from Shawne Williams if he can get healthy. What do you think? -- Vinnie, San Diego.
A: First, if anyone is going to replace Williams as the starting power forward, it's going to be Josh McRoberts, which I see eventually happening, if only for the contract the Heat extended in the offseason. That's probably inevitable. But that doesn't mean that Granger and Deng won't be playing side-by-side at times at forward. And just like during the preseason when they played together, it won't be clearly delineated which is the four and which is the three. But I think Granger can serve a much more important role on this roster, especially the way it is constituted, and that's by serving as a reliable scoring wing off the bench. That basically is something the Heat are lacking, save for the moments of promise provided by James Ennis. I think Danny Granger can fill a very, very, important role on this roster, namely making Wade feel comfortable enough to actually take some time off.
Q: If the Heat were to pick up a valid center later in the season, say an Emeka Okafor, could you see Bosh moving back to power forward? Or maintain the same rotation? -- Stephen, Chicago.
A: Why mess with a good thing? Bosh currently is thriving at center, save for Wednesday's missteps against the Pacers. But I could see the Heat eventually moving toward depth at center, be it Okafor being healthy enough to sign, or perhaps a veteran returning from China toward the latter stages of the season, perhaps someone like Andray Blatche. I still think, though, the Heat could cycle back to some minutes in the middle for Udonis Haslem, if Chris Andersen shows his age.
Q: I could envision Pat Riley putting a package deal together next month involving Norris Cole, Mario Chalmers, Justin Hamilton, perhaps even Josh McRoberts. First and foremost the Heat's success depends on how the players grasp and execute Erik Spoelstra's playbook flawlessly. Not everyone can do it, while for others it's intuitive. Those are the players the Heat are looking for. -- Frank, Miami.
A: Um, the Heat basically had their foundation ripped apart in July, when LeBron James left. I highly doubt there will be any massive makeovers this season or even any time before the 2016 offseason, when the Heat have set themselves up for a major move. When you look at the Eastern Conference and where the Heat stand, there certainly is no need for any type of panic. As long as Chris Bosh is scoring and Dwyane Wade is ambulatory, you exhale and move on.
November 13, 2014
Q: Who told Mario Chalmers he can take the final shot over Dwyane Wade? He blew the game. He is not the hero for the Miami Heat. This is the second time they've laid an egg against a team they should have beaten easily. -- Joe.
A: Mario Chalmers did not blow the game against the Pacers. No single player blows a game on a night a team is 8 of 18 from the foul line and outrebounded 53-28. Now, did he have to go for the contact on his late drive, when he likely could have finished without embellishment? That is a reasonable question. But there also is a need to get over your final point; there is no team that this Heat roster should expect to beat easily. Unless they play their game, with great ball movement and greater effort, they can be beaten by anyone, as Wednesday showed. Take Friday in Atlanta. An argument could be made that Atlanta might not have the one-two punch the Heat have in Wade and Chris Bosh, but if the Heat play there like they did Wednesday, they are going to have a tough, tough time trying to win.
Q: I think we can quiet all that talk about Wade. He looked like the player from last year in that he didn't have it when needed? -- Faye.
A: I think the worst thing that happened for the Heat was that it came so easily for Wade in the first quarter, so easily that the Heat got back to the type of one-on-one play this roster cannot afford. Then Wade scored only one point over the second and third periods combined. But he also stepped up with a late 3-pointer and hardly was the culprit for the loss. What he wasn't this time was a facilitator, with only three assists.
Q: Pathetic performance from the Heat players. There was very little energy and ball movement. And the rebounding effort was non-existent. -- Steve.
A: The rebounding you might have to live with, with this roster (although this might have been a game for a bit more Udonis Haslem, who has had his moments against the Pacers). What you can't get away from is the energy and ball movement. When you do that, you effectively take Luol Deng and all of his off-the-ball movement out of the game. That's what happened Wednesday. As the ball movement goes, so goes Deng.