ASK IRA: Should Riley's resolve ever have been doubted?
Q: The way Erik Spoelstra spoke earlier this week of Rashard Lewis' "emotional stability," is that a shot at Michael Beasley? -- Rick.

A: It's safe to say Spoelstra in no way was thinking about Michael when he was speaking about Rashard, especially since the two players are in completely different situations. Rashard is a veteran who already has had All-Star and NBA Finals moments, one who displayed great patience until this opportunity came around. Been there, seen that, done that. Michael is still waiting to make his mark. Truth be told, Beasley got many more opportunities this season than Lewis, especially early in the season. Michael is still waiting for his first big break, something he has to eventually create, given every opportunity to play as a leading man in his initial Heat tenure, and then with the Timberwolves and Suns. The question now is whether Michael can accept a secondary fate this early in his career, something Lewis has found far easier to handle at this late stage of his career.

Q: The Spurs figured out small ball. -- Chet.

A: No, the Spurs have figured out basketball. The thing is, the Heat also know how to play the game the right way, they just don't always seem motivated to put in the necessary effort. Now, they seemingly have no other choice.


 


June 11, 2014

Q: Is it time to give Tony Douglas some playing time? -- Joel.

A: If you're going to go in that direction, then you're more likely to go without a point guard, as Erik Spoelstra has been forced to do at times this series. But I can understand why you could see the need for a change. Mario Chalmers is teetering in 2011 Mike Bibby territory, with Finals struggles that need to be addressed before it's too late. And it's getting late. I'm just not sure there is any rhythm with Douglas to inject him into the mix at this late date. The Heat's best lineups have been with Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen together in the backcourt, but not if Wade is turning the ball over like he did in Tuesday's first half. But I agree there has to be a shorter leash with Chalmers going forward. The problem is that with the quickness of Tony Parker and even Patty Mills, it would require LeBron James to defend at the point. And when Kawhi Leonard is going well, that could leave the Heat without someone to defend in that matchup.

Q: Clearly the Heat's defense wasn't working in the first half.  Why not play Shane Battier?  Instead, James Jones played and picked up three fouls. -- David.

A: Oh, don't kid yourself, anything and everything will be explored in these 48 hours before Game 4. There are issues that go beyond even this single loss. Look, Spoelstra pushed the right buttons with Rashard Lewis, and Ray Allen also has been solid off the bench. But the reality is instead of inserting Battier or hoping for more from Jones, there has to be more from LeBron. That's simply is how this team is built. When he has seven turnovers and is outplayed by Kawhi Leonard, there will be issues, no matter the rest of the rotation.

Q: Dwyane Wade has become so useless in the Finals. I guess the time off in the regular season did not help much, after all. -- Ananth.

A: I agree that his numbers have been deceiving, and some of his play has been way too loose for games this significant. The Heat's hope at this point has to be that Tuesday night got his attention. At least he got past the turnovers in the second half of Game 3. He needs to be aggressive, but also smart with his play.


June 10, 2014

Q: Ira, last year there weren't any flagrant fouls or technicals with the Heat and Spurs. Now Mario Chalmers has a flagrant, LeBron James and Tim Duncan were T'd up and Dwyane Wade and Tony Parker are flopping. I love it. -- Sid.

A: Because these teams are getting tired of one another. Like LeBron said going in, it's difficult to establish a rivalry when you're only playing twice during the regular season. But now, with 11 meetings in just over 12 months, a testiness is developing. It's not quite Heat-Pacers, but both teams recognize that a certain edge is required in what is an incredibly competitive matchup. These teams are different in style, yet remarkably close in ability. While neither team utilizes an enforcer, the Heat likely will start doing whatever it takes to keep Duncan from the rim, and the Spurs figure to do the same in trying to keep LeBron out of the lane. It takes all rivalries a while to percolate. This one has been simmering for a year, seemingly approaching a boiling point.

Q: Is Shane Battier's career officially over? I was surprised he didn't get into Sunday night's game ahead of James Jones. He still can contribute on defense and you never know when he can get hot and hit a few 3-point shots. -- Joel.

A: I'm not sure part of that wasn't to appease LeBron, who has been pushing for more of Jones. In fact, I'm not sure Udonis Haslem's token appearance wasn't Erik  Spoelstra getting him in after teammates mentioned his potential contributions. The reality is, through Rashard Lewis' length, Jones' shooting and  Battier's hustle, the Heat are trying to cobble together what they lost with the amnesty release of Mike Miller.

Q: Hi, Ira. It's better for the Heat to play without Mario Chalmers in the fourth quarter. The best lineup is  LeBron, Wade, Ray Allen, Birdman and Bosh. That should be the close-out lineup. -- Wayne. Miami

A: But without a point guard on the floor, it most likely requires LeBron to guard Tony Parker, which drains his energy. Actually, LeBron has benefited by Kawhi Leonard being such a non-factor offensively. Also, counting on Allen's offense late can be a dicey proposition, although I certainly have no issue with offense-defense substitutions. In addition, with Chris Andersen on the floor, it allows the Spurs to keep one of their big men at home in the paint. Your lineup has plenty of merits, just not for the entire fourth quarter. The reality is the Heat have to get more out of Chalmers and Cole.