MAY 22, 2013
Q: Do you think the Heat are too good? I know the ultimate test(s) are still to come in the remainder of the playoffs. The Heat are 45-3 in their last 48 games. Does this make for compelling basketball? -- Stuart.
Bulls weren't compelling when they had Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen? Even then, there were playoff challenges for Chicago, just as there likely will be for the Heat. The NBA long has been about repeat champions. Winning once barely tends to resonate. With the Heat, we're at the stage where they're only starting to make a name for themselves with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. That alone creates must-see viewing. If they don't back up last season's title and this season's 66-16 record, there will be plenty of compelling discussion that will follow.
Q: Please settle a bet: Outside of LeBron, who is playing the best for the Heat in these playoffs? -- Shawn, Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
A: Bosh among the stars, Norris Cole among the supporting players. It's sort of apples and oranges to compare otherwise, because of the sizes of their roles.
Q: Will the Heat look into this year's draft? What are the possible moves the Heat will make to acquire young talent? -- Francis, Manila.
A: They already are scouting, so I'm sure if a player grows on them, they would make a move. Remember, they own an attractive lottery-protected pick from the 76ers and might be willing to put that into play. They also could trade one of their spare veterans or even buy a second-round pick, which also is allowed.
MAY 21, 2013
Q: Do you think we'll see more Mike Miller against the Pacers? Aside from 3-point shooting, he is a good rebounder and ballhandler. He could be valuable, especially if Dwyane Wade is ineffective or hurting. -- David.
A: While Miller certainly remains Plan B if Wade is unable to play, I have another hunch, which might prove moot if the Heat continue their current roll that has them with 45 victories in their last 48 games. But what about Rashard Lewis? He would supply shooting on one end and length on the other. For all those times when Erik Spoelstra said he could see a possible postseason moment for each member of his roster, that moment could be at hand for Rashard, who is yet another element the Heat did not have for last season's series against Indiana,
Q: Why the contrast between scheduling between the Western Conference and Eastern Conference? Memphis and San Antonio will be through Game 2 before we even get started. That's ridiculous. -- Michael
A: It's because ABC had to have a Sunday game. And rather than have the Grizzlies sit idly in San Antonio, they instead built the break into that schedule after the second game, so each team could spent the intervening time at home. Heat-Pacers will complete its second game before Game 3 of Grizzlies-Spurs in Memphis on Saturday night.
Q: Ira, good column on the Bulls and the Heat. Anytime anyone starts talking up Pat Riley as being some sort of a genius, I always point to his awful judgment on drafting Michael Beasley second overall in 2008 and passing on Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love. -- Jack.
A: Riley ultimately felt corned into taking Beasley, but he knew from the get-go there was a clear, singular top pick in that draft, in Derrick Rose. Still, you have to give him credit for recovering from that and actually finding a taker to unload Beasley on, in the Timberwolves. The Heat recovered from the type of error that can penalize a team for years.
MAY 20, 2013
Q: OK Ira, should we be worried about Dwyane Wade's ability to play Lance Stephenson? Stephenson just looks so much more athletic than Wade. -- Teresa, Miami.
A: First, don't overstate one game. Yes, Lance looked world class on Saturday night, but the way his teammates and coach gushed tells you how surprised they were, how atypical the performance was. Yes, if Stephenson plays as well as he did in Game 6 against the Knicks and if Wade plays as middling as he did against the Bulls, then a significant advantage would be lost for the Heat. But those are two sizable "ifs." The reality, at least to this point, is that Lance Stephenson on his best day is not the player Dwyane Wade is on his most pedestrian of days.