MAY 9, 2013
A: No, I don't. I don't think Pat or any coach or any executive ever would force a player, especially a star, back onto the court in the wake of major, reconstructive knee surgery. If a player has a 12-month injury, it also could be a 10- or 11-month injury, or, for that matter, a 13- or 14-month injury. The difference, I can almost guarantee, is the Heat would have gone ahead and said such a player was out for the playoffs, while still allowing the player to try to work his way back. I just don't understand why Tom Thibodeau or someone isn't saying Derrick is out for the balance of the playoffs. Period. That wouldn't stop Derrick from still working his way back, and return when he is able, be it the end of the playoffs, the offseason or next season. With Pat, it's always been black and white. If you could play, you play; if you couldn't, he would deal with you when he could. These pregame Rose shooting exhibitions serve no logical purpose. There is plenty of time for him to get his shots up, otherwise.
Q: Provided the Heat get to the NBA Finals, do you think the small-ball strategy would still be effective against bigger Western Conference teams like San Antonio or the Grizzlies? Their bigs aren't slow and have mid-range games as well. -- Ken, Australia.
A: The Spurs have long been a concern, the Heat able to avoid them in the NBA Finals the past two seasons. But I've come around on the Grizzlies, and for more than the inside game of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. I didn't think Mike Conley Jr. had this in him. But just as the concern would be Tony Parker collapsing the defense for the Spurs, Conley has the potential to do the same for the Grizzlies against the Heat. So, yes, Memphis is a legitimate challenge, perhaps even more of a challenge than the Spurs.
Q: After the '07 Finals, Tim Duncan approached LeBron James and told him one day this league would be his. The way things are looking, are the stars aligning for LeBron to get his payback? -- Alexander, Miramar.
A: I think it's safe to say there is no doubt the league is now LeBron's, but championships, and not MVPs, are what ultimately will dictate his legacy. The reality is this: LeBron needs to win this season's championship, whether it's against Duncan and the Spurs or any other challenger.
MAY 8, 2013
Q: Not to completely overreact after one loss, but does the "position-less" approach not work as well against the Bulls? The main benefit of "position-less" is to space the floor and create chances at the rim or corner 3-poiners, and the Bulls do a great job of taking those away. If the advantage of having shooters on offense is neutralized, anyway, wouldn't it make sense to put better defense and rebounding on the floor? The Heat did handily beat a Bulls team with Derrick Rose two years ago, using a traditional lineup. And now you have Birdman, Ray Allen, Shane Battier and Norris Cole in the rotation instead of Joel Anthony and Mike Bibby. -- Adrian.
A: So after one loss you want to abandon what made the 2012-13 Heat one of the most successful teams in decades? At this point, that only would further embolden the Bulls. And with LeBron James on the floor, you're essentially always playing "position-less" anyway. The problem with playing Chris Andersen and Norris Cole, say, with the Big Three, is that it allows the Bulls to even further compress their defense. No, what Heat shooters need to do is hit shots.
Q: Why don't the Heat start Cole over Mario Chalmers? He is faster, plays much better defense and can shoot just as well. I would think for as many boneheaded plays as Chalmers makes he would be one of the first to get cut for salary next year. -- Tony, Fort Lauderdale.
A: When it comes to Nate Robinson, I think that actually makes plenty of sense. But, again, do you change a lineup just because of the lineup a No. 5 seed is offering? But more Norris on Nate makes sense. And there could be something to be said about the Heat picking up their third-year option on Chalmers and then dealing him, if Norris continues to progress. By dealing Chalmers, the Heat might be able to off-load one of their bad contracts (Mike Miller, Joel Anthony) as well. But getting back to your original question, Mario also is the only true 3-point threat in the starting lineup, and without him the Bulls, again, could even further compact their defense.
Q: If Chris Bosh doesn't bring it for the rest of the series, consider this team toast. -- Joseph, Hollywood.
A: More certainly is needed. But LeBron James and Dwyane Wade each certainly have another level they can reach beyond Game 1.
MAY 7, 2013
Q: After watching Game 1, it showed the Heat will lose this series. They are getting out-rebounded, can't score on them, and can't stop Nate Robinson's pick-and-roll. I mean they lost to a team that doesn't have players to play. Now that Kirk Hinrich and Luol Deng will come back this series is pretty much over. What's your take? --Shawn.
A: My take to you and all the others who wrote with similar concerns is to . . . exhale. This is the fourth time in five series that the Heat trailed. It seemed to work out just fine, if not a bit stressful, last season. Yes, plenty of Heat flaws were exposed, dealing with height and handling a quick point guard, but those have been issues all season, and were all overcome. Now we'll see what this team is about, how it handles adversity, something that truly has not been in place since that Feb. 1 loss in Indiana. Now it gets real.