Q: It’s not like Pat Riley is interested in improving this roster. He would have done it in the offseason. – Paolo.
A: Actually, the opposite. Pat Riley and the Heat in the offseason weren’t sure that this roster needed improvement, after closing within a game of the 2022 NBA Finals. Now there is a baseline that shows issues with size, poor shooting, age, injuries and unproductive contracts. In July, the Heat, even with the free-agency loss P.J. Tucker, thought they were in a better place than they have wound up. Now they know they have a roster battling just to avoid the play-in. Now they know improvement is needed. Now what can happen is taking complete stock once again in advance of the Feb. 9 NBA trading deadline. Games like Tuesday showed that they might be a piece away when whole.
Q: I’m guessing the Heat just wanted to give Jimmy Butler more rest if they think the team can handle it. – Mikey.
A: Well, the team and those close to Jimmy Butler said he just wasn’t able to get loose, thus the decision not to play. Now, if it had been a playoff game, I would guess the approach would have been different. And perhaps had the Celtics been whole, there might have been more of a sense of being needed, despite the back issue. But that also basically is where the NBA stands in 2022-23, where playing has become more of an if-needed decision than if injured. It’s just a different time.
Q: Put some respect on Haywood Highsmith’s name. – Diamond.
A: I do and he deserves it. To go from out of the rotation to a contribution such as Tuesday night’s can be one of the hardest things to do in sports, basically go from 0 to 100. He was all over the place against the Celtics, exactly what was needed in the moment. That is exactly what you want to have available on your bench, to break open in case of emergency.