Ira Winderman

Ira Winderman (September 30, 2014)

December 1, 2014

Q: Dwyane Wade. Still special. -- Chet.

A: Because sometime you forget. And then there are the moments like the ones at the close Sunday in New York. Yes, it was against the Knicks. And, yes, Wade had his sloppy moments that might have made it harder than it had to be. But then you think about the close ones that got away because Wade hasn't been there this season and you begin to rethink where the Heat stand. That's what makes it so important going forward for Wade to make it out there nightly, to be available not only Monday in Washington, but also on the upcoming five-game trip that includes challenges against the Grizzlies and Suns, as well as Denver, at altitude, on the second night of a back-to-back. Will Wade play them all? Should he play them all? Of course not. No one is expecting Wade to play 75 games this season. But it's avoiding the extended absences, like the one the Heat just endured. Make no mistake, confidence was teetering. Then Wade came back. And then you began to see the possibilities of Wade and Chris Bosh alongside Josh McRoberts. Already through a month of the season, there still is so much this team has yet to explore. With Wade back, that exploration can continue.

Photos: Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade

Q: Ira, Erik Spoelstra's experiment has failed. Now that Dwyane Wade is back, it's time to get Mario Chalmers back into the starting lineup in place of Norris Cole. What say you? -- Steve.

A: I say that Spoelstra made a point at Sunday's shootaround to talk about how Wade's return allows Chalmers to get back to quarterbacking the second unit, even as a shooting guard. And based on his play in Wade's absence, Chalmers has shown value as a two. Cole's status should be taken as a separate equation, whether he is viewed as the starting point guard of the future or not. And that likely could come down to whether Spoelstra believes Shabazz Napier could be ready to start. For all Napier has done to this point, he has not spent many minutes alongside Wade beyond the fourth quarter. So the Heat might first try to solidify that pairing before considering a lineup change, if one is even needed or desired. What Wade showed Sunday is that he is the Heat's best point guard, on a night when none of the Heat's true point guards distinguished themselves.

Q: Ira let's face it, this Miami Heat team is not a title contender. However, the East is so weak they do have a shot at winning the conference if Washington or Toronto falter.  -- Martin.

A: First, the Cavaliers will rise, if only because of their talent and so many beatable teams in the East. And Tom Thibodeau will always have the Bulls pushing for the highest possibly seeding, Derrick Rose or no Derrick Rose. I think a reasonable goal for the Heat is homecourt advantage in the first round, and that could come down to winning their division and therefore finishing ahead of the Wizards. That makes Monday in Washington particularly significant, having already won the first game of the four-game season series on opening night.