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ASK IRA: A compelling idea to improve the NBA All-Star Game (hello Caitlin, Angel, JuJu and Sabrina)

Q: I have an idea to save the moribund, unwatchable All-Star game: Make it co-ed. There must be two WNBA players out of five on the floor for each side at all times. I’d watch that and I bet a lot of people would, too. – Joe, Fort Lauderdale.

A: Awesome idea, especially with the college game now producing so much name recognition. The problem is that many NBA players have All-Star bonuses, so fewer All-Star berths, less cash. That makes it a National Basketball Players Association issue. The interesting part is that the NBPA works in conjunction with the WNBA union. So, yes, some Caitlin Clark, JuJu Watkins, Angel Reese,Kamilla Cardoso, Paige Bueckers and some Sabrina Ionescu please. Heck we eventually could see the Heat’s Jaime Jaquez Jr. against his sister. And an All-Star Game, with its lack of physicality, could be the perfect setting for such an approach.

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Q: First we didn’t have an answer for teams with big dominant centers. Now we don’t have an answer for speed guards? Then you say we don’t have two-way players? Doesn’t this all go back to the fact that for the last few years all we did was tweak our roster when a rebuild was in order? Afraid to trade what we considered key players? Seven NBA East teams have now passed us by. You are what your record says you are. – Bob, Davie.

A: The difference is the Heat during the Erik Spoelstra era have mostly valued defensive versatility above all else, including over defensive specialists or scoring specialists — at least for the most part with the roster. So what you wind up with is a core of such defensive diversity, with Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Caleb Martin and Haywood Highsmith among such types. And the reality is that such a roster construct has gotten the Heat to the Eastern Conference finals three of the last four seasons. So there certainly is something to be said about the approach. But it also is a more complex way to compete. Still, there also is plenty to be said about continuity, particularly without a lottery visit since 2019 and anole playoff success. So at this point, let’s see how the next 10 days play out, and then there could be ample time for second guessing.

Q: Ira, Erik Spolestra can’t figure out how to beat the top-ten highest-scoring teams in the league, 9-15 vs. them, Then the Heat go 22-9 vs. the bottom ten? If the Heat’s identity is defense, then why can’t they figure it out vs. high-octane offenses? – Roy, Miami.

A: Because from the outset the Heat have stressed being built for the playoffs, thus the current roster construct as explained above. The bottom line is high-octane offense does not have the best track record in the postseason. So let’s see how much high octane there will be between mid-April and mid-June.