ASK IRA: Are Heat waking up to a new East reality?

Q: OK Ira, how did the draft change the East? – Geoff.

A: Unless a playoff team trades to the top of the selections, the draft rarely changes a conference playoff race. I would expect that to be the case, again. Yes, the Magic made an intriguing selection with Paolo Banchero, Detroit got considerable talent with Jaden Ivey and even John Duren, Indiana should benefit from Bennedict Mathurin. From there, not necessarily sold by the fit with Johnny Davis with the Wizards or the Knicks’ machinations. Yes, the Knicks might maximize the free-agency space they created, but that will be more of a free agency factor. As for the draft, even with the No. 1 pick, it continually seems as if the Magic are a year away from being a year away. For now, in some order, it’s still Boston, Miami, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and perhaps what remains from Brooklyn.

Q: Ira, why waste our time with Kyrie Irving? He’s not a Pat Riley player. – Adam,

A: I’m not sure anyone knows who truly is a Pat Riley player until they become a Pat Riley player. And even then, you can’t always be so sure. Anthony Mason wasn’t a Pat Riley player in New York, when Riley suspended him. But then Mason very much turned into a Riley player with the Heat. Again, there is plenty to come with Kyrie Irving’s contract solution, with nothing ever simple with Kyrie.

Q: The last three years the teams (Lakers, Bucks and Celtics) that beat the Heat in the playoffs all put pressure on the Heat by playing big. Putting injuries aside, do the Heat have to play bigger or at least make sure they have a lineup that can match up against teams with length and size? – Stuart.

A: Not sure that isn’t too much of a generalization, since Bam Adebayo missed time in the 2020 NBA Finals against the Lakers and since the Heat were perhaps a single shot away from moving past the Celtics. The first-round sweep at the hands of the Bucks in 2021 was the series where it truly stood out. You play to the strengths of your roster. So now the Heat have to decide whether Omer Yurtseven is a strength of their roster.

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