A: Dwyane could have played Sunday, he just wasn't needed. Nine days off should cure most bruises. This is not a case, like last season's playoffs, of needing to have the knee drained or follow-up surgery. Dwyane sat Sunday because his teammates put him in a position where he could. And while the Bulls can be imposing, the Heat have most of their rotation players playing at the top of their game, save, perhaps, for Shane Battier's shooting struggles and Mario Chalmers' inconsistency.
A: It's who Ray Allen is, a big-moment player. Erik Spoelstra did a terrific job of measuring Ray's minutes during the regular season so he could be ready for moments like this. With the way Ray played against the Bucks, I think the why-not-Mike-Miller-instead chorus has been muted.
Q: The Heat might have won another championship in 2005 if they had more depth. Pat Riley and Micky Arison have learned. -- Stuart.
A: And yet it will be interesting to see how Arison handles spending on a support system going forward. While he is a fan of success, he also has a reputation to uphold as a successful and prudent businessman.
APRIL 29, 2013
Q: It is only appropriate that the Heat were the first team to advance to the second round of the 2013 NBA playoffs. The Heat took care of business. That is a sign of maturity. -- Stuart.
A: The fact that they were joined hours later by the Spurs, as the only teams at this point to advance, says plenty about teams that have far greater designs than merely a first-round series. Yes, the Heat had a few uneven moments against the Bucks, but there never was doubt at the end of any of the four games. Right now, Heat-Spurs is looking like where this all is headed. Figure both coaches actually will play their regulars if that happens.
Q: Ira, I live near Chicago (unfortunately) and have to deal with nothing but obnoxious Bulls fans year-round. My worst sports nightmare would be Chicago upsetting Miami in the second round. What do you think is the possibility of this actually happening? -- Jake.
A: I would never, ever assume anything against a team coached by Tom Thibodeau, who not only gets his players to run through walls, but commands respect to the point where his players then would stay to clean up the mess. And then there is the whole Derrick Rose thing. Even if Rose is limited, he and Nate Robinson would at least give an offensively challenged team a pair of potential streak scorers.
Q: Once again, Udonis Haslem quietly does his job. -- Steve.
A: When he's hitting that midrange jumper, it opens up so much in the offense. And he was very aggressive in the paint against a Bucks roster with plenty of length. Keeping him in the starting lineup proved prudent by Erik Spoelstra.
APRIL 28, 2013
Q: What has the Heat-vs.-Bucks series proved? That the NBA can figure out how to collect revenue for four extra playoff games? Does the NBA ever worry about putting out a product that isn't compelling? You have to admit these games have been hard to watch from an excitement standpoint. -- Steve.
A: As has been the case for much of the Eastern Conference playoffs, save for Saturday's Nets-Bulls epic, a triple-overtime thriller, albeit with its share of uneven moments. The West long has been known for its more creative play, and that certainly has been the case in the wonderful, visually appealing Nuggets-Warriors series. But the slog in the East, I agree, has been almost painful to endure. And that might not change, with the physical style the Bulls and Pacers are expected to deliver to the second round.
Q: I guess Jason Terry will be having drinks with Brandon Jennings soon. They can talk about their predictions. -- Stuart.
A: To Terry's credit, he at least has a championship ring to back up some of the boasts. But anyone who thought he could serve as a replacement for Ray Allen in Boston had a rude awakening this season. When your highlight moment of a season is getting posterized by LeBron James, well, it hasn't been much of a season. As for Jennings, I give him credit for his gumption. At least his Milwaukee-in-six prediction got someone to notice the Bucks. Now whether Jennings' play in the Heat series costs him on the free-agent market this summer is another story.