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ASK IRA: Has Payton Pritchard’s grab-and-go not been given enough scrutiny in Heat-Celtics?

Q: I know the Heat are not the type of team that will look for excuses, but why isn’t more being made about Payton Pritchard’s pulling of Jimmy Butler’s leg, which clearly affected his knee? I suspect that if Gabe Vincent did something similar to Jayson Tatum it would be on the 24-hour ESPN news cycle. – Sandy, Coral Springs.

A: I suspect you are correct. And while I always can appreciate that referees have a tough time noticing every nuance when the game is played at speed, I find it difficult to accept that the NBA office noticed nothing untoward when that play was reviewed (all plays are reviewed, with only those in the last two minutes of close games cited on the publicly released officiating report). It assuredly was more than an innocuous play, with the league retroactively able to assess a flagrant foul. So going forward, such a play leaves a player with nothing more than a common foul? That appears to be a dangerous standard, but also one the NBA seemingly has established with this precedent. All of that said, Boston’s 3-2 lead is about far more than that play or Prtichard or Butler. The Celtics lately have been really good, the Heat not so much.

Q: I really wanted to see Jimmy Butler’s name etched permanently as the first recipient of that Larry Bird Eastern Conference finals MVP trophy, and it’s going to end up being another eff-ing Celtic. Sigh. — Phillip.

A: Hey, there still could be two more games in this series, and if Jimmy Butler can replicate his Game 1 effort two more times, then Jimmy just might get to meet Larry. (Although at this point, it otherwise is looking like the better of Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown the rest of this series.)

Q: Ira, from Pat Riley to Erik Spoelstra we’ve seen both stick with clearly injured tried-and-proven veterans. Time to field a lineup of the healthiest nine players and not worry about egos. What say you? – Brian.

A: It’s not about egos, it’s an appreciation that certain players have higher upsides and you don’t want to remove them from the equation in favor of less talent. Yes, injuries mitigate that. But only the teams, through their training staff, know the degree of injuries. This is not about ego, it is about still trying to roll your best out there.


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