Q: Ira, it was hard to notice that Kyle Lowry wasn’t on the floor at the finish in Utah. What’s up? – Anthony.
A: Kyle Lowry checked out for good with 2:18 to play in the third quarter Saturday and the Heat down five. On one hand, Kyle, at 36, did push through both ends of the back-to-back set and did play 25:56 on Saturday night after playing 32:02 the previous night in Denver, no easy tasks at altitude. And also keep in mind that the Heat’s other 30-something rotation players – Jimmy Butler, Victor Oladipo and Dewayne Dedmon – each got at least one of the nights off. But it clearly again was an off night for Kyle against the Jazz, just as it was against the Nuggets. For now, Saturday’s victory masks any greater concerns. But for the Heat to maximize this five-game trip, or at least escape it at .500, it will require more from Kyle than what has been on display these first two games.
Q: Jimmy Butler saw his doctor, took New Year’s off, and comes back recommitted. Ira, I so want to believe that. But how can I? – Alston.
A: The difference is the Heat announced two weeks ago the plan for him to miss one of these past two games. So this should stand, at least when it comes to the knee issue, as an end game. Jimmy Butler also took aggressive treatment during his previous time away with the knee pain. So you give the benefit of the doubt with the second half of the season, the final 41 regular-season games, to begin in just over a week. What can’t happen going forward are knickknack injuries interrupting the process. As much as anything, the Heat need Jimmy Butler uninterrupted going forward. Without a back-to-back set for the Heat in January, there should be ample time to ramp back up to peak form.
Q: Duncan Robinson needs to play. We complain about his defense, but we give up big point totals. It’s not like anyone else is doing better. We need scoring and he gives that spark and spacing. Thoughts? – Sean, Pompano Beach.
A: Based on how the Heat rotation is configured, unless the Heat go without a true backup center, it is difficult to create minutes off the bench for Victor Oladipo, Max Strus, Gabe Vincent and Duncan Robinson. At least one of those four would be an odd man out. So it becomes a case of playing the hottest hand. It continues to appear that when the roster is mostly healthy it is an either/or decision with Robinson and Strus. But Duncan, to his credit, has again been productive recently.