ASK IRA: Does Gobert’s stumble vs. Mavs add further fuel to Adebayo’s Heat fire?

Q: Ira, I know you’ve mentioned Bam Adebayo having to campaign over the years for Defensive Player of the Year. But after watching Rudy Gobert’s epic fail against Luka Doncic, he should be permanently barred from DPOY. Give it to Victor Wembanyama, but Rudy beating out Bam every again would be criminal. – Sandy.

A: Which is exactly the thought here while watching Luka Doncic completely disassemble Rudy Gobert for Dallas’ winning 3-pointer on Friday night in Minnesota. The comfort level with Bam Adebayo would have been so much higher at that juncture. In fact, instead of Dallas having to get Bam to switch onto Luka, the Heat well may have had Bam on Luka from the get-go. Now, I fully appreciate how Rudy sets a tone for the entire game with his length, something we’ve seen him consistently do against the Heat. But award-winning players make award-winning plays at moments of truth. At Friday night’s moment of truth in the Western Conference finals, Rudy looked like something far less than a defensive option of choice.

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Q: Bam Adebayo is perfectly fine at center. The failure comes from playing undersized players next to him. The days of the 6-foot-5, 200-, 220-pound players next to him have to end – Al.

A: But what I find curious about the notion that the Heat have to trade for or draft size next to Bam Adebayo is that Nikola Jovic closed the season by starting the final 25 games of the regular season and all five of the playoffs at power forward. So that’s 6-foot-10, 240-pound size right there. The question is whether there is comfort with such an approach going forward. If there is, then that’s your size alongside Bam, size with a 3-point stroke.

Q: I appreciate everything Jimmy Butler has done for this franchise and I have no doubt that he still has some great basketball in him, but as a fan, I’d rather watch Jaime Jaquez Jr.’s ascent than Jimmy Butler’s decline. – Ray, Deerfield Beach.

A: But would you? Is this fanbase fine with losing games, particularly playoff games, and exiting by saying, “One day Jaime will make those shots just like Jimmy?” And if the fanbase would, then they have been misread for years. It comes down to a willingness to live with results. It also would have been nice to hear a response from Jimmy Butler to Pat Riley’s season-ending comments. Instead, crickets.