ASK IRA: Is there any guarantee Wade truly is all the way back?
A: Because they think they don't have to . . . until it is too late.


 March 19, 2014

Q: Last year, Birdman was a foul magnet and needed playing time to work that out. It took him weeks to work that out. I hope Greg Oden can work that out by playoff time. -- Martin.

A: Oden clearly needs time, and it's better to see what he can or cannot do now, rather than during the playoffs. It's almost as if Erik Spoelstra put this process in motion to give Greg ample time to be ready for next week's matchup against the Pacers and Roy Hibbert. My concern remains that the move allows Hibbert to remain planted in the post defensively, almost as a goaltender. But, you're right, Chris Andersen came around in last season's playoffs after shaking the rust. Still, Tuesday was another shaky ride for Greg. And again, it is a somewhat odd role, never returning after starting each half. If anything, the power-rotation revelation Tuesday was Udonis Haslem, who came up with four steals in his eight minutes.

Q: Dwyane Wade always gets the rest. Do you think that LeBron needs rest, a game off at some point? -- Faye.

A: Actually, I thought Tuesday might have been a good spot for that. But with the back-to-back, Dwyane was given the rest, instead. I'm curious how Spoelstra will approach the next back-to-back, with a home game Friday against Mike Miller and the Grizzlies and a Saturday game in New Orleans. Wade likely will miss one of those, but I'm wondering whether Spoelstra will push LeBron through four games in five nights, which the Heat also have later in the season, as well. After what LeBron did on Tuesday night, perhaps he gets Wednesday night off for good behavior against the Cavaliers.

Q: Miller Lite should do a Phil Jackson/Pat Riley commercial. -- Stuart.

A: The thing is, the Knicks first have to rise to a meaningful level, and based on their salary-cap position, it's not likely to happen for them next season, either. I am curious to see if Phil takes as public a position in the stands as Pat does at Heat home games. Jackson being back is good for the league, and if Heat-Knicks can rekindle their rivalry, that would be great for the NBA.


 March 18, 2014

Q: Has Erik Spoelstra lost his faith in Michael Beasley again? -- Jax.

A: I don't think there ever was a point where there was unqualified faith. And with this latest lineup change, it basically inserts Greg Oden into the first nine on a team that rarely goes deeper. As I wrote after the victory over the Rockets, the only way Beasley keeps his minutes with the move of Oden into the starting lineup would be if Shane Battier were to complete lose his minutes. Instead, Battier played well off the bench Sunday, playing more minutes than in his typical starts. Michael Beasley has been a luxury for the Heat and Spoelstra this season. For the moment, it is one Spoelstra apparently can't afford in his rotation. But keep in mind, Dwyane Wade still will get time off during the balance of the season, especially in sets of four games in five nights like the current one. Plus, Spoelstra has basically said Oden will not play both nights of back-to-backs, something Oden hasn't done yet. So you'll still be seeing Michael, probably just not as often as earlier this month.

Q: If Spoelstra can find a way to make it work for Oden, doesn't Udonis Haslem deserve the same chance? -- Steve.

A: Honestly, the guy I'm a little surprised about not getting another chance is Rashard Lewis, who played well when given minutes and then vanished when the rotation tightened. And I'm still not sold on Oden as a starting answer against the Pacers, since it could make it easier for Roy Hibbert to pack the paint unless Oden can seal him off.

Q: Why aren't we seeing more of LeBron James in the post this year? It's almost non-existent again. -- Eldrick.

A: He went there several times against the Nuggets, then got away from it. It has been noticeable, perhaps because of the increased efficiency of his jumper. But now, if the Heat truly plan to start both Oden and Chris Bosh, it's not as if there will be much space to operate in the post with the starters.


 March 17, 2014

Q: Greg Oden did not look good Sunday against the Rockets, especially on offense. It surprised he ended up with six rebounds. I hoped he would be further along at this point. It's hard to imagine him helping them much in the playoffs. -- David.