A: Yes, in the games when Ray Allen isn't available, which doesn't figure to be many. In fact, if Dwyane Wade was available Friday against the Pistons, it is likely Jones wouldn't have played at all, with Rashard Lewis seemingly now ahead of him in the rotation. Jones remains a comfortable fallback option. The reality is Ray Allen was playing his best ball of the season before this stomach virus.
March 28, 2014
Q: I hate to say it, but the recent slump also coincides with giving Greg Oden more minutes and even starting him. Maybe he can provide some bulk against backup centers, but right now he isn't a championship-caliber starter. -- David
A: You are absolutely correct, and I think deep down Erik Spoelstra knows and recognizes it, as well. From the start, Oden had to be a dominating presence on the defensive end to make this work, considering how he dramatically changes the spacing on the offensive end. And he has not been that, with undersized Udonis Haslem doing far more to leverage Roy Hibbert on Wednesday night than what Oden could accomplish with his lack of mobility. Look, this already has been an incredible story of perseverance to make it back this far. The story is not a failure, just one that needs to be continued at a different time. If this was another time in the NBA, Greg Oden would be a candidate for Comeback Player of the Year. But the award now is Most Improved Player, and Greg Oden is not that. What he is is a study in determination, and for that he should be lauded.
Q: Chris Bosh's comments sure were bordering on a fine for complaining about officiating, weren't they? -- Moshe.
A: Yes. But the NBA also appreciates that emotions can run high after an emotional game, and that it was not the easiest game to officiate. And for all the grousing from the Heat, keep in mind that in a brutal, knockdown, violent game, the Pacers lost Lance Stephenson for talking and taunting. That might have been the most brutal call of them all. A delay-of-game for the second technical would have been the justifiable way out.
Q: The difference between Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan and LeBron James is that on the last play Wednesday night, Jordan would have taken the ball and gone for the game winner. Kobe the same. They would have overruled Phil Jackson! -- Stuart.
A: And LeBron has done that plenty of times, too. But Chris Bosh has been really good in those situations this season. The difference is that if Spoelstra wanted Bosh getting his bread-and-butter shot, then they should have run some misdirection with LeBron and screened for Bosh, so he could set his feet and gather, rather than going for two passes off a side-out with two seconds left. Live and learn.
March 27, 2014
Q: With Chris Bosh and Mario Chalmers playing horrible, no Ray Allen, taking away a 3-pointer from Dwyane Wade, not calling the flagrant fouls on the blows to LeBron James, I feel very well. -- Leo.
A: Then, at least for the moment, you stand alone. Heat players felt Wednesday's game in Indiana was one that got away for far more than that. They had a late lead and couldn't hold it. Through all that might have gone wrong, they still felt they had it. And then they couldn't close. And that's something a championship team has to be able to do. That's why LeBron and Bosh were so sullen afterward. There simply won't be many opportunities for quality statement games the remainder of the season, save, perhaps for the game in Memphis and the visit by Indiana. This was moment they allowed to get away.
Q: Greg Oden was the question and Udonis Haslem was the answer on Wednesday night. -- Chris.
A: I'm not sure there are any "answers" when you lose, but there now is a huge question mark with Oden, who simply wasn't up to the moment he was added for. Even before the game, Erik Spoelstra tried to backtrack on the expectations, saying Greg wasn't signed as a "Hibbert stopper." Then, after the game, Spoelstra spoke of how Oden played well in his limited minutes. At the moment, it appears Oden's stock is as down as Haslem's stock is up.
Q: Ira, will Rashard Lewis continue to get minutes the rest of the year? I don't understand Spoelstra, why he was so in love with Michael Beasley. -- Mark.
A: I doubt Beasley would agree with your characterization, considering the erratic minutes he has endured, even when playing well at times. I just think Erik has been cycling through as many combinations as possible, to see what works, what doesn't. I am surprised that Rashard was pushed so far down the rotation, considering there were positive results when he was on the court earlier in the season and then again on Wednesday. But Spoelstra does have a way of cycling back through players, as evidenced by the reemergence of Haslem. Still, once you re-inject Ray Allen into the mix, the minutes will be limited. The real loser in the equation might be Shane Battier. Of course, with the Heat, it's all cyclical, seemingly.
March 26, 2014