Q: Ira, Saturday in Chicago was a typical fourth quarter for the Heat. The offense stalls. They end up shooting with the clock running down. Also, as good as Jimmy Butler played in the fourth quarter, he played hero ball with that terrible 3-point shot when the Heat were down two with 12.4 seconds left. — Joel, Fort Lauderdale.
A: What this all comes down to is what the Heat have been lacking for over a week now. You need a shot creator late in games. For all that Erik Spoelstra stressed about the Heat needing stops at the end Saturday, what they also needed was something creative on the offensive end. Tyler Herro, if healthy, could have been that. It also is why Damian Lillard so intrigued (and I guess why there are all these Zach LaVine rumors). Yes, Jimmy Butler can do it on his own, but it becomes all the more difficult without a creative scorer alongside. With all due respect, that’s not Bam Adebayo nor Duncan Robinson. So now we wait on Herro’s ankle. Tyler well could have been the Heat’s counter Saturday night to DeMar DeRozan. It was, in fact, exactly what Tyler was at the start of last season.
Q: The Heat are slow cooking Nikola Jovic. – A.P.
A: Actually, an argument could be made that by sending Nikola Jovic to the G League the Heat are attempting to fast track him. The only way a 20-year-old can learn is by being on the court. This upcoming three-game stint with the Sioux Falls Skyforce will get Nikola on the court, and on the court as a featured player. That wasn’t going to happen with the Heat. Not only wasn’t Nikola going to get minutes over Bam Adebayo, Kevin Love, Caleb Martin or Haywood Highsmith, but, as it is, even Thomas Bryant isn’t getting minutes. With the Skyforce, Nikola gets to play. That matters.
Q: Ira, why play the same team twice? When’s the last time someone told you, “I want to see nothing but Heat-Bulls?” It makes no sense. – Franklin.
A: I don’t disagree. But this is the concession the NBA made in order to reduce travel, which, for the Heat, has been greatly reduced this season. So you had Heat-Bulls on Saturday at the United Center and will have it again on Monday. Then the Bulls will play consecutive games at Kaseya Center next month. For as long as this five-game, nine-day trip is for the Heat, it means flying between road cities only twice, with the two games in Chicago and then the trip ending with games against New York and Brooklyn.