Q: What is Juwan Howard's role now besides wearing a suit and being the biggest cheerleader on the court? -- Tyler, Fort Lauderdale.
MAY 27, 2013
Q: Ira, if LeBron James can do that in the post, why doesn't he do it every game? The Pacers had no answers Sunday. -- Grant.
A: Because for LeBron to get the type of one-man, undersized defense he got against Paul George in Game 3 requires the Heat's floor spacers to space the floor, which Udonis Haslem and Chris Bosh did with their early outside success. It also helped to have Ray Allen actually make a shot in Indiana (he had gone without a conversion in the Heat's two regular-season visits) and for Shane Battier to deliver his first 3-pointer of the series. For as well as George did defensively against Carmelo Anthony in the second round against the Knicks, James in the post is a whole other level. Figure on more defensive help for George in Game 4, and figure on LeBron going for more than the three assists he had in Game 3. But when LeBron can get the ball in the post in transition or in the early offense, there simply aren't many opposing small forwards who have a chance.
Q: I thought the sky was falling after the Heat lost Game 2? -- Sam.
A: It was. This is the Heat; they lose so infrequently that every loss borders on calamity. But what they are doing on the road in recent months is borderline history. Heck, they might want to defer homecourt advantage to the Spurs if they make the NBA Finals.
Q: What was Mario Chalmers doing Sunday? -- Sam.
A: I assume you're talking about the erratic nature of what actually turned into a decent effort. He basically was being Mario, some terrific moments followed by some non-terrific moments. But you have to like his spirit, the spirit that had him insisting Erik Spoelstra leaving him in after he was called for his fourth foul. Mario then helped the Heat stave off the Pacers' final charge. He got to the line for seven free throws and had four assists without a turnover. He came through on a night Norris Cole struggled. (Boy, Norris sure misses the Bulls, doesn't he?)
MAY 26, 2013
Q: Why does LeBron James help train Paul George in the summer? I'm very angry about the Heat giving away their strategy. LeBron shouldn't be helping out an opponent. -- Pauline, Lauderhill.
A: Because that's what players do these days, especially when they come up through the AAU system and are familiar with one another well before they become pros. Plus, with the Dream Team element of the Olympics, the game's stars spend months together honing their games, with George working with LeBron last summer as part of Olympic preparations. For years, even before AAU and the Dream Teams, NBA players have been sharing tricks of the trade, something you'd regularly see during All-Star Games. But "strategy"? No, LeBron does not show up to those summer workouts with the Heat playbook. Still, I do agree there was no reason to have the type of chummy moment they had in Game 2. It was one thing for LeBron and Dwyane Wade to pal around during a regular-season game when James still was with the Cavaliers. But the playoffs have to be different.
Q: Frank Vogel sounds like Rex Ryan. We know you're confident. Shut your mouth and coach your team. -- Harrison.
A: Actually, I think once this series started, Frank has largely done just that. I have no issue with a coach setting an agenda for a series. Phil Jackson and Pat Riley did it, and Red Auerbach did it before that. But once the games start, it should be all about the games, and I think Vogel has now moved in that direction. His overt confidence is nothing more than gaining his players' trust and taking them out of the critical spotlight, just as Riley previously did.
Q: If Erik Spoelstra would bench Udonis Haslem, the Heat would cruise through this series. -- Levi.
A: I think it's safe to say we've reached the point where no one is cruising through this series. But Udonis' inability to get the ball to the rim against the taller Pacers is of concern. Yet with Shane Battier's shot not falling and Chris Andersen susceptible to foul trouble the options are limited unless Rashard Lewis suddenly becomes a rebounder. (But, still, that just might be worth a try.)