ASK IRA: Do Heat have any wiggle room in competitive NBA East?

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			ASK IRA: Do Heat have any wiggle room in competitive NBA East?
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Q: Last season the Celtics were 16-19 in December and ended up in the NBA Finals. The Heat have the vets that have been to the Finals. Why not experiment during the first three months of the season? – Stuart.

A: Because with so much quality at the top of the Eastern Conference, I’m not sure that even the slightest blip during the season can be overcome in time to avoid traveling for the first round of the playoffs Look at last season’s standings, with the Heat finishing atop the East by two games, and the Celtics, 76ers and Bucks all tied for second. Now factor in what the Nets might be with Kyrie Irving available for the full season and Ben Simmons injected into the mix with his defense, and it is possible that a solid record still leaves you on the road for a daunting No. 4-vs.-No. 5 opening-round series. Last season, Heat-Celtics came in the East finals. This season, there is potential for such a series in the first round. Such tests are best avoided. And that means experimentation might be best avoided, as well. Getting a top-three seed could prove worth the effort of such a chase.

Q: Always enjoy reading your take. Here’s my question, now that the Heat have extended Tyler Herro and locked what looks like a core of Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Herro, why not go all in even into the tax and bring in a power forward to make this team a monster? You would have a heck of a bench with Victor Olidapo and Caleb Martin coming in to spell the starters. P.J. Tucker was a nice complimentary piece, but was almost like a Lego piece where it’s plug and play. Kelly Olynyk or Jae Crowder look like they could provide a serviceable two years until Nikola Jovic is ready for his role. Taxes be darned. – Mike, Pembroke Pines.

A: Of course, it’s easy to spend someone else’s money. Foremost, the Heat seemingly do not have the matching salaries to work a deal, at the moment, for Jae Crowder or Kelly Olynyk. But, yes, those would be worthwhile expenditures. The Tyler Herro extension did not upgrade the current roster, but merely protected the future. There still has yet to be a win-now upgrade this offseason.

Q: Every year is the same story, never picked as favorite to win the conference or NBA championship, but end up proving them wrong, again and again. – Ernesto.

A: Which is why I’m sure the Heat’s executive offices and coaching suite hardly are upset about the league’s annual survey of general managers forecasting them for a fifth-place finish this season. The Heat seemingly love nothing more than carrying a chip on their shoulders.

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