ASK IRA: After 2-3 trip, do the Heat need a 4-0 homestand?

Q: Ira, 4-0 on this homestand? – Al.

A: Not if the Thunder have anything to say about it, at the moment in a far better place in the standings than the Heat. And Houston finally has a needed mix of veterans and youth, with the offseason additions of Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks (who is out Monday). Then there are the Magic, who have been with the Heat step by step in the standings. So that leaves Sunday against the Hornets as the potential relief point, although that game also will be the start of a home-road back-to-back for the Heat that concludes the following night in Brooklyn. Until the Heat are healed, nothing is a given, as the recent loss to the Jazz showed. I would think 3-1 would be an attainable goal. But there are plenty of traps over this next week, as well.

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Q: One of your readers said the G League is a stats league. So what should we make of the 41-point game by Orlando Robinson? – David.

A: That there is a legitimate offensive repertoire there, but also with the ongoing question of to what degree it can thrive against NBA size and speed. Third-string center hardly is a glamor role in the NBA, but something you also need to have available. Even though he has been sent to the G League for such playing time at times this season, Orlando Robinson so far this season arguably has outperformed Thomas Bryant. Bryant, however, is at a point in his career where he has moved past such G League stints.

Q: Ira, if Nikola Jovic isn’t going to get to play when Caleb Martin and Haywood Highsmith return, why tease him with the starts? Does anybody believe he is an NBA starter? – Patrick.

A: Because there were games to be played and because somebody needed to start. If Jimmy Butler wasn’t also out, then Jaime Jaquez Jr. would have been the lone replacement starter. Nikola Jovic’s starts also came with Josh Richardson on somewhat of a minutes restriction as he returned from his back problem. The bottom line is when the Heat are closer to whole, Nikola likely will wind up in the G League for an extended run, which is probably best for both Nikola and the Heat in the long run. The talent is there. What’s needed now is consistent playing time, something that didn’t necessarily come even with these three emergency starts.