Q: Ira, are we stuck in the middle? – Wes.
A: Possibly, considering each conference has 15 teams and the Heat’s upside, which, at least at the moment looks to be in the Nos. 6-9 range. There is no indication that record-wise the Heat are up for competition against the Celtics or Bucks (yes, they remain capable of defeating either when whole, but the Heat have shown no ability to sustain the type of winning necessary to have a top conference seed). And, at the moment, it does appear as if the Cavaliers, 76ers and Nets are on a far more significant trajectory than the Heat. So that would mean battling the Knicks, Hawks and possibly others for the No. 6 seed, the final seed that avoids the play-in. The four-game winning streak against the Pacers, Thunder, Rockets and Spurs was all well and good, but all that mostly showed is an ability to beat the bottom of the West. If the Heat are to make a move in the East, it will have to be by doing it against the teams they are chasing. There will be ample such opportunity after the turn of the calendar and the completion of the impending five-game western swing, the Heat’s final trip west this season.
Q: No team in the history of the NBA has ever won a championship with over half its roster being undrafted players, which is what the Miami Heat have been trying to do for the last few seasons. We’ve seen glimpses of talent from Duncan Robinson, Max Strus, Gabe Vincent and this year Haywood Highsmith, but not enough on a consistent basis to get us to the next level. – Greg, Jacksonville.
A: This is a league defined by leading men. That means Jimmy Butler having to be more available, and, frankly, Kyle Lowry having to be better, as he was on Monday night. In many ways, Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro have kept the Heat afloat to this stage. But unless it becomes more of a four-for-all, I agree about the limited upside, with all due respect to the likes of Caleb Martin, Max Strus, Haywood Highsmith and even Victor Oladipo. The Heat’s complementary players have largely complemented.
Q: Everybody is going to be high on Orlando Robinson now. And we should be. He reminds me of what Haywood Highsmith was doing at the end of last year, namely being in the right place at the right time. That is so important for us under the basket. – Roland, Borrego Springs., Calif.
A: And Orlando Robinson is deserving of such credit after Monday night’s performance against the Timberwolves. But, as stated above, there also has to be perspective. Where Orlando makes it interesting is if the Heat need to use Dewayne Dedmon’s salary in a trade, there now appears to be another viable option in reserve behind Bam Adebayo.