Q: Do you think the Heat will retire Shaquille O'Neal's number at some point in the future? He was a significant part of the Heat's first championship team in 2006. If Dwyane Wade didn't get hurt in the 2005 playoffs (against Detroit), the Heat might have had one a year earlier. Shaq should have been MVP in the 2004-005 season. He brought Miami basketball back. And even though Shaq left on bad terms, he raised the bar of what is considered acceptable winning basketball for the Heat franchise. Shaq made Heat basketball a destination event. -- Stuart.
A: And only spent two and a half seasons with the Heat, putting out full effort for just two. That just doesn't seem like a lengthy enough period to make him the third Heat player to have his number retired. I think waiting first for such a tribute to Wade and perhaps even a few other Heat players might make more sense. But the one thing we know is that Pat Riley enjoys nothing more than making moments with celebrities, as he did with the raising of the Michael Jordan and Dan Marino jerseys. And I'm sure if Shaq's number is retired, Riley would want to be a part of the organization when/if it happens.
A: While I'm not sure Norris' minutes during the playoffs will be as high as during the regular season, I'm not sure that would open the door for Miller, with the Heat already loaded in their nine-man primary rotation at the wing with LeBron James, Wade and Shane Battier. Norris' playoff minutes likely will come down to how Mario Chalmers is playing and foul trouble. Now the hope is that Tuesday's seven-turnover performance by Cole was an anomaly.
Q: I think the Heat in their 82-game schedule will win more games than the Marlins in their 162. -- Martin.
A: If the Heat get to 63 wins, I might agree. I think the Marlins will do anything possible to avoid the dreaded 100-loss season.
APRIL 3, 2013
Q: All this chatter about some Heat fans not wanting Boston in the first round is shameful. I know Boston raises the level of its play when it faces Miami, but if Miami can't beat a Rajon Rondo-less team and one that every year continues to get older with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, it would be shameful. If I was the Heat, I would love to have a team like Boston, who will give the Heat a decent challenge, but nothing to be praying to avoid in the first round. -- Julio.
A: Actually, I'm going to disagree. There is nothing wrong with the path of least resistance, which Milwaukee likely would be. Garnett and Pierce will never be more rested than during the first round, especially with both being given time off lately. This Heat team does not need to be "tested." What it needs is to be fresh and healthy for potential challenges such as the Bulls in the second round and the Knicks or Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals.
Q: How did the Heat get LeBron James to sit out two games in a row? -- Stuart.
A: By reminding him that he will have to play two months in a row come the playoffs.
Q: Don't you think resting LeBron and Dwyane Wade and others the rest of the seasons is a bit extreme? They were playing so well. I would hope they would play a few more games together, like Chicago or Boston, to get them ready for playoffs. -- Jeffrey.
A: They will. Erik Spoelstra has it all mapped out. You can bet on that. This team will not allow itself to grow stale. But they've pushed hard for five months, they deserve time to recharge, as well.
APRIL 2, 2013
Q: Knowing that Chris Andersen will be a free agent after this season, is there a chance that Pat Riley could entice him to return to the Heat with Mike Miller's amnesty salary? -- Julian, Pembroke Pines.
A: It doesn't work that way. Amnestying Miller only would help the Heat from a luxury-tax standpoint. It would not impact the salary cap, with the Heat still to be operating well above that threshold. The Heat's only options with Birdman in the offseason would be a 20-percent raise over the minimum salary or their single-use taxpayer mid-level exception.