How do you think UD's foot will hold up w/1 day breaks rest of ECF ?
JR: That's the mystery question. Heat are every-other-day the rest of the way in the Conference Finals. And there could be some residual soreness.
How deadly is it when LBJ or Wade bring the ball up to a waiting Bosh/Haslem combo where either can be used in a pick and roll. Seems like there are so many options, interesting to see how they utilize this more.
Brooks: They're starting to work both side of the floor in that rotating pick-and-roll game a lot more. Reminiscent of Celtics from a couple years back.
How come the Celtics don't have their own "heat Index" page? Does ESPN like the Heat that much more than everyone else?
You might want to check out ESPN Boston's Celtics page which employs the supremely talented Chris Forsberg and the legendary, Gowdy Award winning Jackie MacMullan, in addition to other columnists.
Do you guys think that the teams in the west will be a welcome treat for Miami if they make it to the finals? See,s like all this DEFENSE from Boston and CHI will have Miami ready for a team like OKC or Dallas.
C'Mon: Don't sleep on Dallas' D. Just ask Mr. Durant. They have arguably the best defensive center in basketball right now who patrols the lane, can switch up to a nasty zone at a moment's notice and make smart decisions all around. That's a well-coached, savvy defense.
Why haven't we been seeing James Jones this series? He can actually hit his open threes.
Jay: It's a tough decision for Spoelstra. JJ provides premium spacing, but right now the Heat need muscle on the boards and some defensive versatility and Mike Miller -- though he can't shoot it like Jones (at least not right now) -- gives the Heat those qualities.
From the perspective of a Bulls fan, this series does not appear winnable for Chicago. What in your view is the only way the Heat lose this series (aside from an injury)?
Jim: Chicago's defense is better than it showed last night. They might need to unpack a little to pressure Bosh more at the weakside elbow. Tom Thibodeau is one of the best in the business and we're certain to see an adjustment. Also, I'm still not convinced the glass is secure for the Heat. That could bite them at least once more in the series.
Thoughts on Noah's comment?
Justin: Just had a one-on-one conversation with him. He's contrite. Frankly, more upset that he's a distraction than over the fact that he insulted a group of people. But he feels foolish. And that was apparent.
How do you see the rest of the series playing out? and do you like LBJ playing the role of the facilitator or would you like for him to take over offensively?
Travis: I love LeBron in this role. This is really the best way to play against a Thibodeau defense: Let 'em load up, then use the loadee to work the ball away from the defensive pressure.
Are the Heat to an extent lucky to be in this position right now? The Bulls have played somewhat poorly the last two games and have stuck around. If the Bulls turn it up a little bit and finish stronger, the Heat should be concerned I'd think.
Mark: Don't disagree. There's nothing easy about this series for the Heat. Look what it's requiring to win games: A jump-shooting exhibition by LeBron and a career game by Bosh. No doubt, Miami is the better team right now. But Heat are still looking for some consistency -- offensively. Good news for Heat is that the Defense has locked in.
Kevin, Jazz fan here. Looking at the draft, the top 3 players in no particular order seem to be Irving, Williams and Kanter. Which player would be the most ideal for the Jazz and why?
Dave: That's tough, because you know as well as I do that the Jazz need a wing. And this is arguably the worst Wing draft since I can't recall. Irving by default just because Jazz are loaded up front.
If the Heat win the title this year, should Dan Gilbert's prediction of Cleveland winning a title before LeBron rank as ridiculous as the Doomsday predictions of this past weekend?
Sean: I don't know. Did you read about that guy who made all that money agreeing to walk dogs left behind by The Rapture? Gilbert's a crafty businessman, but even he didn't think of that.
We know Game 4 is a must win for both young teams, if both Miami & Dallas win the next game, are we looking at two gentlemen's sweep and a rematch of 2006? Do either the Bulls or OKC have an unexpect trick up of their sleeves left?
MD: I'm more thrilled that "Gentleman's Sweep" is working its way into the lexicon.
NBA champions. Who you got?
Joe: Had the Heat at the outset of the season and feel obliged to stick with them -- and reasonably confident they'll prevail.
Not trying to jinx anyone because things are far from over but if momentum continues, the Heat will meet the Mavs. How does the lineup change for the Heat if matched up against the Mavs?
John: I think Joel gives the Heat a Dirk defender -- to the extent anyone can actually defend Dirk. But he's got the physical attributes you want. That leaves Bosh to tangle with Chandler.
Miami's defense has been great, but the Bulls have still gotten some good looks. If they start hitting from outside, how dangerous can D-Rose and the Bulls offense become?
Mark: If they can drain their 3s more consistently, they become deadly. A lot of the Heat's defensive strategy has been predicated on ceding the perimeter. The Heat are closing nicely, but there's air space there, as you point out.
With Haslem back, we're starting to see what the Heat were supposed to look like all year long. How impressive will they be next year, with Haslem and Miller both healthy and the big 3 having a year under their belt getting used to each other?
Morgan: I think they'll be better whether or not Miller returns healthy. And the biggest growth won't necessarily be Haslem -- but James, Wade and Bosh developing that kind of telepathy that good teams have among their stars.
Kevin, what's Asik's status going forward, and how do you see that affecting the series? I felt the Bulls' best advantage was being able to play an entire game with a good defending and dominant rebounding frontcourt.
Kent: Omer is day-to-day with a muscle strain. I agree with you wholeheartedly. The Bulls are already the toughest defense in the league statistically. And when they have Asik and Gibson on the floor together, those numbers are startling. We saw it in Game 1 and, I agree, their frontcourt depth might be their greatest asset. Size and mobility are often disparate qualities. Not with the Bulls.
Will the Miami Heat win Games 4 & 5
Chris: I'm expecting a split.
You said split, do you see miami losing game 4 or 5?
Bryce: I got the home teams the rest of the way, which conforms to my Miami in 6 prediction. I like to be right.
The offensive additions of Udonis are great, but it's on the defensive end that his presence shows. With Bosh/UD/Anthony the Heat's pick and roll defense is insanely difficult to puncture. Helps so much against Rose to have three mobile big men who can pressure then recover.
Danny: You bet. Mobility is key against the Bulls/D-Rose, even if you give up a little size. I'm still a little worried the Heat might give up an offensive rebounding rate of, like, 40+ (4 out of 10 rebounds on Chicago's glass goes back to them)...but it's a relatively smart gamble.
Kevin how do you like the new line up that coach Spo has been using and should they use more off James Jones ? and who do like in tomorrows game 4
PP: Heat are in a tough spot with Jones because they need rebounding and versatility at that position. I suspect you'd see a lot more of Jones when and if the Heat reach the Finals.
What are your thoughts on adjustments going forward in this series? Hollinger suggests Bulls go small with Deng at 4, but that plays into what Miami wants to do with Lebron at the 4 which was deadly this year.
Shane: I don't know that the Bulls have a choice. They need to decongest their offense. As good as their bigs are. The Heat really started to strangle the CHI offense last night.
Does Miami have cap space to add free agents in the offseason?
Vee Dub: No and it'll probably be even more grim with a new collective bargaining agreement. They'll have to count on the kindness of a veteran to take less money. (Sam Dalembert?)
Why was there such a long break in between games 2 and 3?
JP: The NBA has a "move up" if each team closes their previous series. Originally the series was to begin Wednesday of last week, then go every other day (with Sunday being Game 3). By virtue of the move-up, they started early, then we all waited around.
As a Bulls fan, I still don't regret the lack of a trade for a shooter at the deadline at the sacrifice of some promising young players, but how different is this series if the Bulls had a guy like Mayo or Courtney Lee, but likely lacking Taj and/or Asik?
Mark: That's a great counterfactual. Imagine Mayo at the 2, but let's subtract Gibson. So now you'd have a 3-man frontcourt rotation of Boozer, Noah and Asik. (With Kurt Thomas available, too). Pretty impressive, yes? But I like Gibson long term. They'll find their shooter eventually and I don't know if Mayo was THE guy.
I'm a little worried Kurt Thomas might turn the tide for the Bulls if Asik is out, he's a tough gritty defender. What's your take?
John: He'll definitely see minutes if Asik can't go -- that is unless Thibodeau decides he wants Deng at the 4 for stretch, at which point, all bets are off. Thibs is pretty conventional in terms of lineup configuration (innovator defensively). It will be interesting to see.
Thanks for the questions, folks. We'll be back next Monday (either from Chicago for Game 7, from Miami with a long hiatus, or from Miami with a postmortem).