A: Well, "if" the Heat again make the Finals, you'd have to figure San Antonio now holds the upper hand in the West. But I wouldn't count out the Clippers, who have a depth of talent, if not necessarily a playoff-level halfcourt offense.
Q: Why not rest Dwyane Wade for Game 4 in Milwaukee? This will give him over a week to recover. Mike Miller showed he can more than take over the position when necessary. There is no reason for Wade to play injured now. It's better for him to be at full strength against the Bulls and Knicks. -- Bob, Miami.
A: I agree, if the knee is as bad as it appears. And I also agree about Mike, who practically deserves the opportunity. Beside, as long as Ray Allen is available as a closer, the Heat should be fine.
APRIL 26, 2013
Q: How concerned should we be that Dwyane Wade claims he's "not even close" to feeling 100 percent physically? Does he think he's going to get stronger as the playoffs progress? Or is this going to be a similar scenario to last year's playoffs? -- Jake
A: It's an odd situation. He couldn't have looked any more explosive than he did in Tuesday's home victory, then he came out and had a career-worst postseason shooting effort in Milwaukee on Thursday night. For a while, I thought they were playing possum about the knee, but there clearly is an issue. While holding him out Sunday might be extreme, getting a victory Sunday would be significant because it would guarantee at least five days off before the next round begins. When Dwyane has been fresh, he has been very good. But clearly he will have to be nursed through upcoming games.
Q: Samuel Dalembert said that Heat would be one of his options this summer. With Birdman likely to be offered a new contract, do you think the Heat still want him? Maybe he can take Udonis Haslem's role -- Tom, Maryland.
A: At best, Dalembert would be a fallback option if Chris Andersen signs for more elsewhere or perhaps if Joel Anthony's contract could be offloaded. But for as much as Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra talk about the Heat's culture, I'm not sure that Dalembert fits that culture. I'm not sure he has the passion for the game that the Heat insist upon. If there is Heat interest, it would come later in free agency, if at all, and at the minimum, at the most. He hardly was impressive Thursday. I don't know what Drew Gooden has done, but you would think with some of the Bucks' struggles that they would be able to find minutes for him, perhaps instead of Dalembert.
Q: Where have the white seat covers gone for the "White Hot" home games? -- Jim, Fort Lauderdale.
A: LeBron needed them for his impending wedding.
APRIL 25, 2013
Q: I would love to see more of Chris Bosh going to the hoop. -- Chet.
A: But that's not the strategy this series. The strategy is to draw Larry Sanders to the perimeter, and possibly Ersan Ilyasova, as well, to create those driving lanes that LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have been taking advantage of. When you think about all the penetration LeBron and Dwyane have produced, do you really want to reduce that just to create opportunities for Bosh? To a degree, this is another case of the "sacrifice" that Erik Spoelstra talks about, of Chris getting out of the way for the greater good.
Q: Ira, your "if it ain't broke" mentality is all well and good, but what if it's cracked? I mean. it clearly looks like Udonis Haslem's fast-twitch muscles went slow-twitch in a matter of months. Haslem needs to see playing time sparingly these days. -- Jowall, Hialeah.
A: But that's exactly what is happening, with Udonis playing minimal minutes. And, fact is, at 2-0 in this series, it ain't broke. It still is highly possible Erik Spoelstra makes a lineup switch with Udonis -- when, or if, needed. For now, it's all good just the way it is.
Q: I know all these LeBron questions about 2014 are annoying because it all depends on the final outcome of this and next season, where he goes. However, with the hiring of Mike Brown, do you see that as working in favor of the Cavs in 2014 or against them in trying to acquire LeBron? -- Jeremy, Hollywood.
A: Neither. LeBron didn't leave the Cavaliers to play for Erik Spoelstra. He left to play alongside Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh (and, truth be told, Mike Miller). If the Cavaliers can add another A-list draft choice alongside Kyrie Irving and then sign a top-tier free agent either this offseason or in 2014, only then will LeBron seriously deliberate Cleveland. He's not leaving to play for Brown with Cleveland's roster as currently constituted.