April 3, 2014
Q: The Knicks will be swept out in the first round, if they make it there. -- Ananth.
A: Look, I'm not overstating New York. But, unlike the Hawks, the Knicks wouldn't just be glad to be there. And Amare Stoudemire is actually accomplishing things lately, and Tyson Chandler is getting closer to his game, plus Carmelo Anthony has it in him to win a game, or two. The Hawks would be a path of lesser resistance, even if Paul Millsap gets his numbers. But it looks like fate demands another round of Heat-Knicks in the playoffs, which is where the current No. 1-vs.-No. 8 seedings stand. It suddenly doesn't look as clear of a Heat road to the NBA Finals when the possible path is New York, Brooklyn and then either Chicago or Indiana. Buckle up.
Q: The good thing about using James Jones, Rashard Lewis and Udonis Haslem is they are all rested and have fresh legs. -- Martin.
A: Sure, if victories over the Bucks in March and April are the goal. But while fresh legs are good, Dwyane Wade's and Ray Allen's legs are better, and they have to be up to speed for the Heat to have any true postseason prospects. This will be a delicate dance for Erik Spoelstra over these final two weeks of the season, but getting Wade and Allen in rhythm with the rest of the rotation players is far more significant than continuing to realize unexpected contributions from the end of the bench.
Q: Congratulations to Alonzo Mourning. I will always remember Game 6 of the 2006 NBA Finals in Dallas. Alonzo refused to let the Miami Heat lose. Also, I remember his class and strength in having to lift Pat Riley's spirits after another tough lose to the Knicks in the playoffs. And I remember him and Shaquille O'Neal taking Dwayne Wade for car rides at night in June 2006 to keep him focused on the task at hand. Alonzo represents so many of the great qualities we admire in individuals. He started the tradition of the highest standards of Heat basketball. -- Stuart.
A: He is a fitting choice as the first Heat player to be inducted, to be followed, down the road by Wade, LeBron James and possibly Chris Bosh, in addition to Shaq. Alonzo's growth with the Heat was remarkable, as both player and person.
April 2, 2014
Q: Ira, has the Heat's focus on the Pacers been misplaced? How is that team going to make it through two rounds? They can't even make it past the Cavs. -- Julian.
A: I've always thought the notion of "Game 7 against the Pacers" has been misguided. It's almost as if was taken as a sure thing that the Pacers would make it through their half of the bracket. I don't know much about odds-making, but I do wonder what the odds would look like, at this moment, for a Pacers series against the Bulls or Nets, even with Indiana holding homecourt. What Erik Spoelstra has stressed is the Heat looking in the mirror, rather than worrying about what's going on elsewhere. Honestly, I can't recall a single time that a Heat player has either asked or spoken about a Pacers result this season. I know that hasn't been the case in the Indiana locker room when it has come to the Heat's results.
Q: Do you have any clue why Coach Spo isn't playing Michael Beasley lately, particularly when the Heat have been shorthanded? When he's played, Beasley has been terrific both on the offensive end and on the defensive end. I don't get it. Monday night was a prime example: When LeBron James and Chris Bosh were resting, the Heat had a lineup in which Rashard Lewis was ostensibly the featured scorer. Beasley would have been a far better choice for that role. -- David.
A: First, I think having both LeBron and Bosh off the floor was a reach with any lineup, when Dwyane Wade has been out. What we're seeing is a coach who is more comfortable at this stage of the season with Lewis than Beasley. And sometimes that's all it comes down to, coaching comfort. Rashard has been in playoff-like moments before. Michael? Not so much. In the end, it is likely that the playing time for both will be meager in the most meaningful playoff moments.
Q: If the Heat could pick their first-round opponent, who would it be? -- Mike.
A: Well, if this was the D-League playoffs, it would come down to who gets the final spot in the East. If the Knicks get No. 8, I think the Heat would prefer Charlotte over the potential headaches of a series against New York. But if the Hawks or the Cavaliers get No. 8 in the East, I think that would be their choice. Of course, it's a moot point. They get who they get, and they don't get upset.
April 1, 2014
Q: Toney Douglas handles the ball with authority. He was plus-10 against the Raptors vs. Norris Cole at minus-nine. And LeBron James showed the confidence to pass to him for that late 3-pointer. Should he be playing ahead of Cole? -- L.K.