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ASK IRA: Are the Heat in a Boston state of mind?

Q: We’re playing the Celtics, aren’t we? – Stan.

A: Based on the way that the Celtics went into Milwaukee and took care of business on Friday night, it seemingly would appear that way. But it’s also not as if there hasn’t been road success in that series. It well could come down to the better game between Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jayson Tatum. Still, NBA history significantly favors the home team in Game 7. So I would say the Heat staff likely are spending a bit more time at the moment on their Boston video than their Bucks scouting report. Either way, both of those teams have looked far better in their series than the 76ers looked against the Heat.

Q: The Heat do not have the top superstars, but they probably have the deepest bench among the remaining teams. It is their strength. We have many excellent defenders. Why can’t we utilize our players to pressure our opponents in the backcourt more? We can keep rotating players in off the bench to keep them fresh. – Jay, Weston.

A: First, the Heat often have gone to such ball pressure, particularly after timeouts. And they had been picking up James Harden 94 feet. So there is that. But for all of the Heat’s considerable depth, you still want your best players on the court as much as possible. So you also have to be mindful of not wearing down Jimmy Butler or Bam Adebayo with such extra effort. Beyond that, pressure defense also can result in fouls. That might be palatable with, say, Gabe Vincent or Victor Oladipo. But I’m not sure you would want Butler or Adebayo burning fouls in the backcourt.

Q: I just love that it’s championship or bust here. That’s the greatest feeling as a Heat fan and as a competitor. – Swann.

A: Which is why the precautions with Kyle Lowry in both the first and second rounds. The goal was not to just advance to the Eastern Conference finals. The goal was, and remains, the 16 victories required for a title. And the challenges at point guard only will get tougher, which is why you need, or at least want, Kyle Lowry as close to 100 percent as possible.


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