A: Really? You really think it has reached that point with Dwyane where he is of no more use than James Jones or Joel Anthony? Yes, he is limited, but a limited Wade still is a threat, still has had his moments in transition in this series, still can get rebounds and assists. He may not have his prime explosion, but it's not as if he has been limping around the court. Only when he bumped knees in Game 4 did we see him physically limited, and even then, he returned to have his moments. Even in this state, he is necessary in the larger championship picture.
A: Yes, if LeBron is at the top of his game. If LeBron is at the top of his game, there is more than enough in support, with Chris Bosh, Shane Battier, Ray Allen, Chris Andersen and even an emerging Norris Cole. Now, if LeBron were to become limited by an injury, that would be a different story.
Q: You were spot on at the start of the series about Nate Robinson being a flash in the pan. -- Brian.
A: Because that's who he has been over his career, moments of brilliance mixed in with moments of chaos. Yet because of that, it is possible he recover his Game 1 form in Game 5. He as capable of dramatic performance swings as any player in the league.
MAY 14, 2013
A: There's a big difference between having a limited Dwyane Wade and having no Russell Westbrook. The difference is being up 3-1 instead of down 3-1. But, yes, the burden has increased on LeBron, who still has Chris Bosh at his side, someone decidedly better than the current next-best Thunder player, be that Kevin Martin or Serge Ibaka. As Dwyane said Monday night, he has been dealing with the bone bruise on his right knee for weeks. Yet, he still managed to have some highly productive minutes in both this series against the Bulls and especially in the series against the Bucks. So you take what you can get and you move on. But by Wade and the Heat at least admitting there is an injury, it's a start. Now it becomes about what else needs to be done, instead of what Wade isn't doing. Saying Wade had chosen to accept such a limited role was a farce from the moment the Heat tried to pass that as fact. He's hurt. Now we know. Now everyone can move on.
Q: Is Rip Hamilton going to be factor for Game 5? -- Ryan, Naples.
A: I don't see how he can't be. It's not as if the Bulls are going to bring back Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng or Derrick Rose at this stage. The more we saw of Hamilton in Game 4, the more you have to wonder if Tom Thibodeau somehow made it personal with the veteran guard (or, for that matter, if Hamilton did something to merit banishment to the doghouse). More Rip and less Daequan Cook figures to again be the approach Wednesday. Desperate times seemingly would call for such measures.
Q: Interesting how the tough-guy routine ended for the Bulls. -- Ed.
A: It's not as if it worked. What would work for the Bulls is finding a way to make a shot or two, something the Bulls desperately needed Carlos Boozer to do in Game 4. It never should have come down to Nate Robinson's 0 for 12, because relying on Nate was fool's gold from the start.
MAY 13, 2013
Q: To keep the core together, the Heat will need to minimize role-player salary. Is Norris Cole playing himself out of their market as a bench player at the same time he is proving himself indispensable to the team? Is next season the last the Heat retain his exclusive rights? -- Jonah, Fort Lauderdale
A: Norris is under contract for a reasonable $1.1 million next season, with the Heat holding a $2 million team option for 2014-15 as part of Norris' rookie-scale deal. They also can extend a qualifying offer of $3 million for 2015-16 to retain the right to match outside free-agent offers, which likely would come in well above that figure. So, essentially, the Heat are free and clear (and able to pay on the cheap) when it comes to Norris for the next two seasons. And, let's face it, the way this team is built, you really can't think more than two years out. The greater issue is how Norris' play might impact the Heat's $4 million team option on Mario Chalmers for next season. One option could be the Heat picking up that option and then packaging Chalmers with an unloadable contract (such as Mike Miller or Joel Anthony) to alleviate some of the luxury-tax burden.
Q: I have great esteem for Tom Thibodeau in the way he maximizes his depleted talent, but he also is a complainer and pushing his team to this ridiculous UFC tough-guy scheme and losing credibility. Come on Tom, stay classy. -- Cruz.
A: It remains me of the way Pat Riley got P.J. Brown so fired up that you knew something was going to happen. The next thing you knew, Charlie Ward became a thrill ride. Yes, coaches should motivate, but those buttons should be pushed for basketball purposes. David Stern has spent years trying to remove this element of the game, it certainly has not enhanced this season's playoffs.