Q: If the Nets make it to the playoffs, there is a high chance that it will be the No.8 seed. Wouldn’t it be wise for the Heat to spend a huge amount of time playing Haywood Highsmith, Mychal Mulder and Javonte Smart this week, so that they could be eliminated from the No. 1 seed and avoid meeting Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving? first round? – Cara, Palm Beach Gardens.
A: It all comes down to perspective. And a case can be made for both. That aside, there’s something to be said for winning a playoff series for the first time since the 2020 Eastern Conference finals after the Bucks lost last season’s first round. On the other hand, if you truly believe that you are fighting for a championship, a homecourt advantage in each round, with the No. 1 seed giving you a homecourt advantage until at least the NBA Finals. And the reality is that there remains the prospect of Brooklyn closing in at No. 7 and therefore playing at No. 2. At the moment there are too many variables for anything but full steam ahead.
Q: Ira, we know there is a starting lineup going into the playoffs now with Max Strauss, Bam Adebayo, PJ Tucker, Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry. Tyler Herrow and Dwayne Deadmon are the first two off the bench. Would you agree that if Eric Spoelstra sticks with the nine-man rotation, Gabe Vincent is out (unless there’s an injury or the wrong problem), and that’s Duncan Robinson over Markif Morris and Is Victor Oladipo on Caleb Martin? – Rick, Pembroke Pines.
A: I won’t. I agree with the first seven you quoted. And I’m not sure Markif Morris would factor in a playoff permutation. But I still think it comes down to two rotation roles for four players – Gabe Vincent, Victor Oladipo, Duncan Robinson, Caleb Martin -. And a lot of that can come down to matchups. In fact, if an opponent continues to go short, Markiff may even outrun Dwayne.
Q: With Max Strauss, I know I’m in a hurry, but are the Heat walking down a familiar path of ultimately paying more to hire a player who just might be the best role-playing player I can possibly be? – T, Queens, NY
A: You are very quick, given that Max Strauss is already under contract at the experienced minimum for next season. So there is still plenty of time to evaluate his final role (which is currently as a starter). The big question lies with Caleb Martin, an impending banned free agent. At one point, it appeared that he could be costing himself beyond the Heat’s means. Then came the injuries. Now that may prove to be a difficult decision, given that he may not be part of the primary playoff rotation.