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.
A: Disagree. Udonis has solid rebound-per-minute numbers, an area the Heat can use all the help they can get. But he certainly doesn't spread the floor like Lewis, with Erik Spoelstra moving toward a floor-spreading approach in last season's playoffs. Still, when the Heat needed a late stop on Sunday in San Antonio, Erik Spoelstra inserted Haslem, who switched off Tiago Splitter and helped force Tim Duncan into a key late miss. There very much is a place for Udonis in this rotation.
Q: Last season we witnessed two Pacers-vs.-Heat playoff games get out of control. Last Wednesday's fiasco in Chicago provided more of the same, followed by verbal jabs from Danny Ainge and Pat Riley. All of this could have been avoided with better officiating. At the first sight of an unnecessary hard foul (see Tyler Hansbrough, Taj Gibson, Kirk Hinrich), the refs need to call a flagrant and get the game under control. The league is so quick to fine players and coaches for silly stuff, yet they can't get their own refs to have better control of games. -- Stuart.
A: Points well made. While I've never been a fan of the double-foul or double technical, sometimes it takes an early message being sent to keep things in order. The beauty of a double technical is it puts the players on notice with no change on the scoreboard or a player's ability to aggressive defense (with no personal foul being assessed), with tempers generally muted thereafter. I'm not sure that the Bulls game necessarily got out of control, but taking the temperature of a game should be a key element of officiating on the NBA level.
APRIL 1, 2013
Q: Pat Riley used to say the great thing about the NBA season is there is always another game to play to get to right after a disappointing loss. Wednesday night in Chicago is a distant memory. -- Stuart.
A: And the response has been terrific. First there was the mauling of the Hornets in New Orleans on Friday night, to make it clear that there would be no post-streak funk. Then, Sunday in San Antonio, the Heat found the perfect balance between rest and tenacity. Don't kid yourself, getting to play as the singular star goes a long way with Chris Bosh, and his winning 3-pointer has to inspire confidence going forward. Then there was Rashard Lewis with four blocked shots, tying the most by any Heat player this season, and then four 3-pointers by Mike Miller. It was as if they were letting Erik Spoelstra know they're there if needed. And even Norris Cole getting his first start of the season has to inspire his confidence, in case he is called upon in the playoffs.
Q: Was Sunday the best Miami Heat win all season? -- George.
A: I'd say the most unexpected. I'd still say that going into Oklahoma City the game before the All-Star break and throttling the Thunder meant more, because that came with the players the Heat will be relying on to win another championship. But Sunday was pretty neat in its own right.
Q: Why are the players on every other team strangely obsessed with the Miami Heat? -- Baker.
A: Because they're the current gold standard, and their play in March left no doubt about where championship aspirations go through. So if Raymond Felton is going to spout off about his confidence in the Knicks, it's not going to be about how he thinks his team can beat the Pacers, Bulls or Nets. They talk; the Heat win. It seems to work for everybody involved.