Q: Ira, with the Heat so shorthanded, any chance of the Heat taking the mothballs off Nikola Jovic? He has been out a very long time with back spasms? – Joel.
A: No chance. That’s not the direction you go, with an untested rookie, at such a high-stakes moment. With Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo out, it could come down to whether Erik Spoelstra just goes eight deep, with Kyle Lowry, Caleb Martin and Duncan Robinson as the reserves (assuming Kevin Love again starts), or whether he adds another player into the mix. That player could be Haywood Highsmth, as another element of perimeter defense. As it is, the Heat basically are down to 11 available players, with Herro and Oladipo out, two-way players Jamal Cain and Orlando Robinson ineligible for the playoffs, Udonis Haslem not a rotation element and with Jovic dealing with very real back spasms. So if you are starting Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, Max Strus, Gabe Vincent and Love, and then if you utilize Lowry, Martin and Robinson as your primary three reserves, it leaves only Highsmith, Cody Zeller and Omer Yurtseven as your other options.
Q: I feel so bad for Victor Oladipo. He can’t catch a break. – Anthony.
A: And he deserves a break, considering how relentless he has been with his rehabilitations, over and over and over. Take last Sunday in Milwaukee, a night he knew was unlikely he would play in Game 1 against the Bucks. There he was pregame, relentlessly contesting a three-on-three game that also featured Duncan Robinson, Haywood Highsmith, Omer Yurtseven, Jamal Cain and Orlando Robinson. It got so heated that Oladipo wound up in a huff with assistant coach Caron Butler, who was refereeing. The drive to make himself whole was relentless. And then this.
Q: With Playoff Jimmy Butler inspiring Kyle Lowry, Duncan Robinson and Caleb Martin last night, we are still waiting for Bam Adebayo. He looked, again, very timid. What is going on? – Aviv, Miami.
A: Brook Lopez’s height. It appears as if Bam Adebayo is settling instead of attacking. His confidence level, at least from a scoring perspective, is not near the same level of Jimmy Butler’s. To his credit, he is being aggressive on the boards, or at least was on Saturday night.