February 24, 2014
A: Absolutely not, until proven otherwise. Look, Indiana has gotten bigger by adding Andrew Bynum and even Lavoy Allen. But the bottom line is that with Battier starting the Heat have eliminated the Pacers in each of the past two postseason. The Pacers first have to prove that they have solved the Heat's smaller lineup before the Heat get bigger. Beyond that, if Oden gets into early foul trouble, it could eliminate the option of utilizing Oden when needed during late-game situations.
Q: Mario Chalmers, as usual, gets overlooked again Sunday. He has had a string of good-to-great games since the road trip. -- Eddie.
A: Well, actually Sunday was the first home game in nearly three weeks, but I get your point. Mario has been playing well while getting overlooked because of the play of Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. But he continues to fit this team, particularly amid some recent uneven play by Norris Cole. Mario's free agency could be an interesting ride. The Heat need him; he needs the Heat. But the Heat's available luxury-tax cash might not meet the need.
Q: When teams get physical, like Chicago did Sunday, or when Serge Ibaka took down LeBron James, why doesn't Erik Spoelstra turn to Udonis Haslem? -- George.
A: Because this isn't hockey, where you can roll out your goon for a shift. You stay with your rotation, and right now Udonis isn't anywhere close to the rotation. For as physical as Udonis can be, he's not a goon and doesn't deserve to be cast in such a role. The NBA has gotten away from "enforcer" roles. You send someone out there headhunting and all you're going to wind up with is a suspension and possibly even a fine for your team.
February 23, 2014
Q: So who will it be: Danny Granger, Big Baby or someone off the radar? Could the Heat still cut Toney Douglas Jr. and sign two? And, what happened to our great bench that was considered the Heat's big strength? -- Chet.
A: Good questions. First things first: Yes, I certainly could see them going for more than one addition, certainly with no enduring commitment to Douglas (other than having to eat his salary, although that also would strip them of a third-string point guard, should Mario Chalmers or Norris Cole go down). I can't recall this many potentially helpful names being available at the buyout deadline. Of course, there have not been many seasons like this, with teams seeing how low they can go in order to maximize their lottery odds. And your point about the Heat's questionable depth is legitimate. It's almost as if they have to add another wing, amid the current shaky shooting from both Shane Battier and Ray Allen (of course, they still have James Jones, although you wouldn't always know it by looking at who's in uniform lately). These next few weeks could be as intriguing as some of the past offseasons have been to the Heat, when it comes to personnel and rounding out the bench.
Q: Let's say the Heat do get Danny Granger. Whose spot would be taken in the rotation? -- Jay.
A: To start, it would be the scraps that had previously been going to Michael Beasley. But it's safe to say that any addition would have Erik Spoelstra reformulating his entire rotation. Just like the potential addition of Glen Davis would have him essentially taking Udonis Haslem's role, what really would happen is Spoelstra reassessing everything one through 15 to make the pieces fit.
Q: What about adding James Ennis? -- Bob.
A: With so many proven veterans shaking free, I can't fathom a veteran-oriented personnel man like Pat Riley looking for youth at this stage. Ennis' next chance figures to come during summer league. But, yes, the Heat could add the swingman out of Long Beach State at any time prior to the end of the regular season and have him playoff eligible.
February 22, 2014
Q: Can the Heat really afford to keep a shortened rotation in the second half of the season? It's like asking for increased chances of freak injuries to key players. -- Ryan, Naples.
A: Yes, the eight-man rotation was both highly noticeable and noteworthy Thursday in Oklahoma City. No Greg Oden. No Michael Beasley. No Udonis Haslem or Rashard Lewis. And it worked. The reality is in the playoffs, with no back-to-backs and extra time built into the schedule, eight-man rotations are the norm. I think you'll see Erik Spoelstra make spot use of tight rotations the rest of the season during key matchups, as dress rehearsals for the playoffs, sort of like what you saw against the Thunder. But, no, it won't become the norm, which is why the Heat are looking for a wing from the buyout market and still will create minutes for Beasley in coming games. Just as fans circle certain games, it's likely the Heat coaching staff will do the same on their calendars.