Q: When either Jimmy Butler or Bam Adebayo is on the bench, the Heat are a poor team. Everyone else is mediocre. The narrative that they have this amazing player-development program, is pure fiction. Players developed all around the league are as good and better. – Morgan, New Orleans.
A: I agree that when Max Strus is inconsistent, when Gabe Vincent is off with his shot, and when Duncan Robinson can’t get playing time, the development program doesn’t quite have the same shine. But credit should be given for how Caleb Martin has been developed from a two-way prospect. Also, we have to see where the development program takes Omer Yurtseven, Nikola Jovic and Jamal Cain. So there still is hope. At least there’s that.
Q: Over this season we’ve gone from hoping the Heat are a championship-caliber team to believing that they were, at least, playoff material, to wondering if they are even a .500 team. We are 4-5 against teams with losing records, and are going on a difficult road trip. So a .500 season now seems like a lofty goal. Bill, Palm Beach Gardens.
A: I know this might come off as apples to oranges, but the Heat also are only three games under .500, in a far better place than the NBA finalist Boston Celtics found themselves last December. What this team has yet to do is sustain. But there also are 55 games to make things right. Do they look like championship material at the moment? No, not when compared to the Celtics or Bucks. But in their best moments, they have looked very much like a team with a chance at something better than .500. Erik Spoelstra’s teams have almost always gotten better as seasons have gone on. So, for now, that would be the hope.
Q: Let’s stop sugar-coating, this team isn’t it. They are bad. Erik Spoelstra has been bad. Down two against the Spurs and we go for two 3s? Seriously, where is the execution or play calls? No Kyle Lowry to set up a play? Jimmy doesn’t touch the ball? Bam Adebayo had a putback off the rebound, but decides to throw it to Caleb Martin? It’s unbearable to watch. – Marc, Arlington, Texas.
A: You raise completely valid points. And you cite the exact players who should be shaping wins. Yes, Tyler Herro had an open 3-point look. And, yes, we would not be having this discussion had Caleb Martin drained his open 3-pointer. In fact, Bam Adebayo would have been credited with making the right play. But Jimmy Butler is this team’s closer, and that never should be lost in the shuffle. He gets to the foul line, which is all the Heat needed at the time. And Kyle Lowry was brought in to dictate just such situations, more of a natural playmaker than Goran Dragic. For his part, Bam is the muscle of the operation, at a moment when muscle was all that was needed. Yes, if either of the 3-point attempts falls, we are not having this discussion. But they didn’t. So we are. Just as has been the case after similar such losses, including Tyler’s 3-point miss at the end of the loss in Indiana, where the Heat return Monday.