Q: So Mike Miller can't get into a game at all and now he has to play? What's going on? -- Steve.
A: What's going on is Shane Battier can't make a shot, so Spoelstra can only go so long with a player he certainly wants to give more than the 6:11 Shane got in Game 1. But Battier has to hit shots to space the offense.
JUNE 6, 2013
Q: Ira, I enjoyed the end of the Bulls and Pacers series and how no one was shaking hands, even Roy Hibbert going directly into the locker room right after Game 7. Now it's platitudes and hugs with the Spurs. What gives? -- Roy.
A: First, it's almost always different in the Finals, especially with teams that haven't met before in a playoff setting. There's no history with the Spurs, just as there was none with the Thunder in last year's Finals (now the Mavericks in 2011, that was a different story in the wake of the 2006 Finals). Beyond that, these players haven't even played against each other during the regular season, with so many stars held out during the two meetings. Plus there is the respect for Gregg Popovich due to his Olympic experience as an assistant coach on the U.S. teams that featured Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh. But give it time; it didn't take long for the Heat and Pacers to develop animus during last season's playoffs.
Q: Should Miami consider playing Joel Anthony over Birdman, given his unique pick-and-roll defensive abilities? -- Carlos.
A: The issue could come down to whether the Heat use any backup center at all, given the fact that they certainly could spot Shane Battier defensively against Boris Diaw and Matt Bonner, and possibly could use Mike Miller in such a role, as well. I see this as a series where small ball makes a return for the Heat, possibly to the playing-time detriment of Chris Andersen.
Q: Ira, just curious, how much extra money do players get in the Finals? Do they even get extra money? -- Mike.
A: By their standards, not much at all. The team wins the Finals gets an extra $2,302,232, which is divided among the 15 players, plus any players who had previously had been on the roster and were eligible for a playoff share, leaving each winning player about $150,000. By contrast, LeBron James earns over $200,000 per game during the regular season.
JUNE 5, 2013
Q: Ira, Birdman comes back and we win, because we always win with Birdman. The Heat were so flat in Game 6 and then so sharp in Game 7. Why? Birdman, Birdman. -- Joel.
A: I'm not sure I would equate the Heat's Game 7 success against the Pacers to the return of Chris Andersen, with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and even Ray Allen having a greater impact on Monday night. In fact, we could wind up seeing less of the Bird in the Finals, depending on the Spurs' approach. If San Antonio puts Matt Bonner and Boris Diaw on the court at the same time when Tim Duncan is out, there might not be a workable defensive assignment for Andersen. It all will be part of the chess match with Gregg Popovich, just as Erik Spoelstra and Frank Vogel had to match wits in the Eastern Conference finals.
Q: I assume Shane Battier will be back in the lineup with a more favorable matchup against the Spurs. Does that mean Mike Miller is out of the rotation, or has he earned some playing time? -- David.
A: For the reasons I mentioned above, there should be a place for Shane, now able to match up against the likes of Diaw or Bonner. But I wouldn't rule out Mike Miller, not with the energy he provided in his brief minutes against the Pacers on Monday night. He might have had one of the best 0-for-3 playoff performances a Heat player ever has had.
Q: Regardless of the outcome in the Finals, do you see the Heat making any offseason moves, something involving more size to prepare for a stronger Chicago and Indiana next year? Or do they ride out this roster until the wheels fall off? -- G.
A: I'm not sure the wheels ever can fall off a roster that has LeBron, Wade and Bosh. The commitment to size will be a commitment to re-sign Birdman. There also are two summer leagues to get a read on Jarvis Varnado. And Justin Hamilton should be back for summer league, as well, his 2012 draft rights still held by the Heat.