ASK IRA: Has it become Bam or bust for Heat against Celtics?

Q: Ira, at least Jimmy Butler shot the ball. Bam Adebayo just stood there like a mannequin. This is a playoff series, not one game. Robert Williams was back and Bam was gone. – Matty.

A: But that also is part of the playoff rhythm, that you don’t allow the same player or same play call or same game plan beat you twice. You see it all the time in the playoffs, a great game and then defensive retribution. But you also see the best of the best push past that, find a way to back it up. Bam Adebayo is not there yet, is not versatile enough to turn to a Plan B. At this stage of his career, that basically is a Plan A and that’s about it. But the way this Heat team is constructed, if Bam can be the difference in one win, then there should be enough in reserve to take care of the other three needed. With Jimmy Butler hobbled, with Kyle Lowry slowed and with Tyler Herro sidelined, that might no longer be the case in this series. Bam did his job in Game 3. It likely will have to be someone else when it comes to the two remaining needed victories. Either that, or perhaps this is when Bam creates the type of defining moment that elevates him to another level.

Q: Ira, if we stop here with Tyler Herro’s groin strain, where does he stand with his extension? – Max.

A: It’s interesting how when a player is in the midst of a struggle how the same question can come from so many directions on so many consecutive days. We’re basically where we’ve stood for weeks, aware that Tyler Herro had a dominant sixth-man regular season, had previously thrived in the 2020 playoffs, and now must show how he handles being the focus of opposing gameplans. So if you’re asking whether he deserves a max extension, that likely comes down to where the market stands, as well as the risk the Heat otherwise would take in exposing him to free agency after 2022-23. The compromise could be something in the middle, an extension that includes incentives for both individual and team success. Of course, Tyler, and, more to the point, his agent, will ask for the max. Then the real work will begin. Yes, Bam Adebayo got his when it came to his bite at the extension apple. But is Tyler Herro at the level of Bam?

Q: If Erik Spoelstra wants productive minutes out of Duncan Robinson and Max Strus both, shouldn’t Duncan start? It would seem easier to hide Duncan on defense amongst Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry, P.J. Tucker and Bam Adcebayo than alongside slow-footed Dewayne Dedmon and Tyler Herro (when he’s healthy). – Camden, Coral Springs.

A: Except that would put Duncan Robinson against starting-level wing talent. So, for example against the Celtics, would you rather have Duncan on Aaron Nesmith or Jaylen Brown? And to your greater point, I don’t believe Erik Spoelstra wants to find a way to get productive minutes out of both Duncan and Max Strus. I believe he wants to get the best possible two-way result out of one of the two, which lately has been Max.