ASK IRA: Is it time for the Heat, Pat Riley to move on to the next big thing?

Q: Can we get out of Groundhog Day? Will this be the offseason when we target functional size? I’m tired of watching all of our undersized guys having to work so hard to overcome every game. That’s why they stay injured. – Ken.

A: I’m not sure of the correlation to injury, but the lack of size cannot summarily be dismissed. But it has to be the right size that is added. Pat Riley swore by Thomas Bryant in the offseason and we’ve seen how that didn’t work out. And as long as Erik Spoelstra insists on mobile big men, it’s not as if he will play a post-planted center. But if Bam Adebayo is as big as it gets in the rotation, then it likely will continue to be an uphill battle against functional size. Remember, though, Kevin Love has a player option for next season with the Heat, so it again could be Bam and Kevin as the primary big men (as well as the size of Nikola Jovic). As it was, size hardly was the overwhelming factor in Monday night’s loss, with the Heat within four in the rebounding battle and only outscored by two on second-chance points.

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Q: Josh Richardson has been out so long you kind of forget what he, too, could bring in times like this if he were healthy. – Douglas.

A: Because Josh Richardson has been out so long following his midseason season-ending shoulder surgery, his presence (and current lack thereof) tends to go overlooked. Josh’s game very much is what the Heat could use at the moment, particularly in the absence of Terry Rozier. So instead of Josh’s defense and 3-point possibilities, the Heat had to go out and fill one roster spot with backcourt defense (Delon Wright) and one with backcourt shooting (Patty Mills). This Heat playoff roster and rotation could have looked a lot different with Josh available. There is no doubt that Josh could have helped on Monday night. The assumption is that he picks up his player option for next season, so there certainly will be other chances.

Q: Wouldn’t you say injuries have the greatest impact on success in the playoffs? Look at Milwaukee, Philadelphia, the Clippers and the Heat. Obviously these teams don’t have “enough” now. So doesn’t it become even more important to finish in the top four in your conference to weather any injuries that may arise early in the playoffs? – Bob, Davie.

A: Could not agree more. Because even with the injuries the Heat have been attempting to work around (Jimmy Butler, Terry Rozier), there could have been a shot to withstand such absences had the Heat gotten into that No. 4-No. 5 series that is featuring the Magic and Cavaliers. One more regular-season victory, just one more, and the Heat would have been the No. 5 seed. Two more, and they would have had homecourt advantage in the first round, at No. 4. The lesson is that November, December, January and the other regular-season months also matter. Whether that truly sets in going forward . . . we shall see.