Q: Can you in all honesty tell me that is the best (play?) Spo can come up with when there are five seconds left in the game after a timeout? The play (I use the word lightly) wasn't any better the possession before. As a coach, he has to do better than that. -- Alan.
A: I got a lot of this in the postgame email. And the reality is that with a few more of these situations handled correctly, the Heat could be resting veterans (and centers) now, and preparing for something meaningful in the postseason. I have a difficult time believing Pat Riley finds any of this acceptable. And I have to wonder about when Goran Dragic considers coaching in his free-agent equation what these final sequences will have him thinking.
Q: At least Michael Jordan would attack and if he didn't have anything. All Wade does is dribble at the top, run out the clock and heave it up. -- Stuart.
A: Look, certain situations call for certain approaches. But being down one point with five seconds left doesn't call for a 3-point shot. It doesn't necessarily even call for getting to the rim. All it calls for is getting to the foul line, if to do nothing else than extend the game. Amid all the chaos of the blown lead, there still was time for clarity at Saturday's defining moment, and there was none.
April 4, 2015
Q: I think I am about ready to shut this season down and try and reclaim a Top 10 pick. I know the team has fought all year and given their heart and soul to make the playoffs, but I'm just tired of seeing our guys go down with injury and I don't see the point of going after a playoff seed other than pure pride. I think we let Dwyane Wade's offseason start now, rest up and get healthy. Get our pick back and bring in a guy like Sam Dekker, who just seems like the Pat Riley type and someone who could help us right away. It's time to look to next season and let our guys who have played something like 33 percent more games than anyone else in the league over the last four years get some well-deserved rest. I know it seems like the easy way out, but I think it's the right move. -- Andrew, Miami.
A: While I'm not a proponent, and neither are Riley and Erik Spoelstra, at least with the public way both have come out against such an approach with this roster, I think that ship also might have sailed. Among the Heat's remaining games (at this writing) are the Pistons, Magic and 76ers, teams that already have moved into lottery mode. So you could wind up with a few of those games (and we've seen plenty of them in recent weeks, such as that doozey between the Lakers and 76ers) where neither team is prioritizing winning. And remember, even a bottom-10 finish doesn't guarantee that the first-round pick due to the 76ers won't be forwarded, because a team seeded beyond No. 10 in the lottery that makes a longshot jump into a top-three spot would then push the No. 10 lottery seed to No. 11. (Remember, the terms of the deal for the pick that first was sent to Cleveland in the 2010 LeBron James sign and trade, are that if the pick is not among the first 10 this season, it must be forwarded). And, for umpteenth time, I remain a proponent of paying off that debt and moving forward, preferably by making it a selection in the mid-teens. The debt does not expire, so why have it hanging over the team for another season?
Q: Ira, should the Heat just try to get the 8th seed instead of the 7th seed? I think we have a better chance in a seven-game series against the Hawks rather than facing the Cavs. Can you see the Heat beating the Hawks if we were to stay on the 8th seed? -- Daniel.
A: At this stage, the Heat don't have much of a choice when it comes to seeding preference. Based on the tightness of the standings, there could be the possibility of going into the final game of the season, because of tiebreakers, of playing for either the seventh seed with a victory or the lottery with a loss. Now, that could change over final week and a half of the season, but right now the ability of manipulating the seeds has fallen beyond the Heat's means.s
Q: Will Dwyane Wade expedite the transition to sixth-man next season in order to lengthen his career? -- Orlando, Miami.
A: I can't fathom Wade, with his pride, allowing himself to go from a starter in four consecutive NBA Finals to a reserve after just one interim season. It is something that possibly could happen down the road, but I doubt it would happen any time soon. And the other part of the equation is finding a player who would make such a shift worthwhile.
April 3, 2015
Q: Ira, do the Heat have to win out to make the playoffs? And what are the odds of that? -- Charlie.
A: I think 38-44 should get them in and that 39-43 would. So 4-3 might be good enough and 5-2 should be. Of course, that also would represent some of their best sustained play of the season, let alone more optimism that might be warranted in light of Dwyane Wade's bruised left knee. I do think Sunday's game against the Pacers will be particularly significant, because of the possibility of multiple-team tiebreakers, with the Heat 1-2 against Indiana, but 4-0 against Brooklyn and 3-1 against the Celtics. In fact, Tuesday against Charlotte also could be significant on that count, with the Heat 1-3 against the Hornets. Look, they're getting the Pistons on the second night of a back-to-back on Saturday in front of a Detroit crowd that largely will be preoccupied with Michigan State in the Final Four, so perhaps they could skate by without Wade in that one (although they needed all of his 40 points to beat the Pistons at home this past Sunday). And beyond Sunday's game in Indiana, their only remaining road game will be the season finale in Philadelphia. And with the way they had been playing at home prior to the loss to the Spurs, they should be able to be competitive against Charlotte, Chicago, Toronto and Orlando. Of course, with this team, health means everything. And now Wade's left knee means everything.
Q: Sadly, a third time around with Michael Beasley wasn't the charm. He often looks clueless in games, is a liability defensively, and even his scoring punch against decent defenses gets watered down. -- Eric.
A: There always is a reason a player is available on the cheap in late February or March. The Heat were desperate and Beasley did help on a few occasions early on. The trouble began when the Heat had to start counting on him. It was something that was not anticipated, and might have been a case of asking for too much. It would be interesting if the Heat make the playoffs to see if he would be in a playoff rotation, which tends to get significantly shortened without any back-to-back games. As it was, James Ennis was the choice to start the second half Thursday in Cleveland. And when Beasley did play, he struggled. That option the Heat holds on Beasley for next season certainly looks like it will be bypassed. For the second season in a row, once Beasley was guaranteed for the season, his play went south.
Q: I am really starting to get concerned with Goran Dragic's production. This can't help the Heat in re-signing him. -- Ted.
A: Clearly he is physically beat up, having to carry more of a load than he ever could have anticipated, first when Chris Bosh was lost for the season on the very day he was acquired, then with Wade dealing with multiple bumps and bruises. When you look at so many of the Heat's lineup combinations, you almost feel for the positions Dragic finds himself. And you wonder if he is starting to wonder about hitching his future to Wade, amid the recent issues with that left knee. It's almost as if Dragic and the entire roster need a mental health break at a juncture when there is no time for one.
April 2, 2015