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ASK IRA: Would Bucks or Celtics be the preferred Heat opponent in East finals?

Q: Ira, who’s the better matchup for the Heat, the Bucks or Celtics? – Dehr.

A: Going into the playoffs, and certainly after the first round, I would have said the Celtics. But they certainly have shown a degree of flaws in their series against the Bucks, including now having to win both Friday in Milwaukee and then Sunday, if they survive, back in Boston. So that might not even happen, anyway. With the Bucks, though, they have looked very good against the Celtics and are projected to have Khris Middleton back the next round, although we do not know to what degree. Considering that Milwaukee only has to win one of the next two, it appears it would be the Bucks, regardless of the Heat’s preference. Then again, based on what the Bucks did against the Heat in sweeping last year’s first round, and based on how Jimmy Butler was humbled in that first round, and based on the Bucks declining to pay P.J. Tucker to retain him, there would be a significant amount of motivation to play Milwaukee.

Q: Can’t wait to get Kyle Lowry back. The extra days certainly will help. – Don.

A: First, let’s not lose sight of what Gabe Vincent has accomplished as a fill-in starter. He deserves his fair share of credit. And even with the extra time, Kyle Lowry’s hamstring will remain an unknown until we see differently. Remember, the last time Kyle stepped away after first hurting the hamstring, it still wasn’t right when he returned two weeks later. This time, the break will be eight days. So we have to wait and see.

Q: They shut everyone up. Joel Embiid. James Harden. Ben Simmons. A complete embarrassment. – Nate.

A: First, let’s not group Joel Embiid in there. He returned from a concussion, played with a mask to protect a facial fracture and had a splinted thumb because of a ligament tear. You could see why he was one of Jimmy Butler’s favorite teammates. And, um, Ben Simmons was traded from the 76ers at midseason. As for James Harden, it will be very, very, very interesting to see how the 76ers handle giving him even one dollar more going forward.


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