ASK IRA: Have the Heat, Spoelstra identified their playoff closers?

Q: Ira, I understand why you say which five finish the game is more important than which five start it. With that said, I think the finishers for Heat should be: Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Haywood Highsmith, Caleb Martin and either Tyler Herro or Terry Rozier. What is your take? – Parag, Weston.

A: Not enough shooting there, or at least not enough spacing. When scoring is at its toughest, I’m not sure you can make it work with both Haywood Highsmith and Caleb Martin on the court at the same time, unless you are simply attempting to protect a lead. (And we’ve seen all too often what happens with the Heat offense when the Heat grind to a finish.) That’s why Duncan Robonson has to be considered, or at least the possibilities with Jaime Jaquez Jr. and his ability to create offense.

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Q: I like this “young buck” squad of Tyler Herro, Bam Adebayo, Caleb Martin, Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Haywood Highsmith. – Pipsy.

A: Except, those bucks all are not so young. Caleb Martin is 28, Haywood Highsmith is 27 and Bam Adebayo is 26. That’s sort of NBA mid-life. It’s when you factor Nikola Jovic, at 20, into the equation with Tyler Herro, 24, and Jaime Jaquez Jr., 23, that you get a sense of the potential long-term outlook. Plus the Heat own their first-round pick in this June’s draft. So, yes, there is a future to consider. But, at the moment, it largely revolves around Jimmy Butler, 34.

Q: Ira, it drives me crazy when Nikola Jovic drives to the hoop, has an easy layup, and passes out to someone for a three. Also, in his next development he has to get stronger. There have been a number of times that he has driven to the hoop with a defender on him and can’t score because of lack of strength to overpower the defender. – Joel.

A: First, I believe Nikola Jovic has a stronger base than some credit. And in recent games he has been attacking the rim more frequently. But the Heat also do not need Nikola to be a creative scorer. They need him to score in transition (or at least push the ball in transition), spot up for threes, and rebound. Dribble penetration is not necessarily a strong suit at this stage. Remember, he does not turn 21 until June. There remains ample time for development. But April is not when he should be trying to change his game.