ASK IRA: Is slow and steady no way for Heat to get back into playoff race?

Q: Ira, I see your readers would like the Heat to play more like the Pacers, getting out and pushing the ball and putting a priority on offense. But Indiana has players who create pace and push the pace. That’s what the Heat lack. – Wes.

A: Which is why in January they went from Kyle Lowry strolling the ball up the floor to the trade to Terry Rozier, who immediately pushed the ball with the anticipated pace – only to be sidelined when needed most by neck injury. But, yes, this is not exactly a team of pace, particularly when Jimmy Butler is playing as the offensive anchor (no double entendre intended there). Rozier arguably might be the Heat’s only true speed guard, and he now is a speed guard on the other side of 30. More speed certainly would help. And arguably, in today’s NBA, is needed.

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Q: We simply cannot draft Zach Edey because Erik Spoelstra has no earthly idea how to coach or incorporate a true center in the lineup effectively – never has, never will. It is an odd asterisk to add to the bio of an otherwise well-respected coach. He wants his players to grow and progress, but in this one area, he has done neither. – Andrew, Coral Gables.

A: First, Erik Spoelstra truly tried to make it work with Hassan Whiteside, perhaps to the detriment of more immediate growth from Bam Adebayo. And he has gone big and won big when considering the Heat’s success with Kelly Olynyk and Meyers Leonard playing alongside Bam. To me, this is more of a Pat Riley thing. Erik Spoelsta has succeeded in finding ways to get his best players on the court. If one of Erik Spoelstra’s best players also was a big man, that big man would play. Heck, Nikola Jovic, at 20, started in the playoffs. So we won’t truly get a read on what Erik Spoelstra would do with another quality big man until Pat Riley gets him another quality big man. With the emphasis on quality.

Q: The productive young contracts of Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Nikola Jovic are vital for the Heat. – Mark.

A: A valid point, particularly with where the Heat stand against the luxury tax and cap. Such is the value of rookie-scale contracts. And such is the danger of trading away so many draft picks. All of that said, if there is a path to speed up the return to contention, the Heat likely will choose the path of veterans.