ASK IRA: Is Heat playing with pace also playing with fire?

Q: The ball finds energy and the Heat found a lot of energy against Indiana. Will we see more? – Felix.

A: Well, considering the Heat again host the Pacers on Saturday night, you very well could see something similar, with Indiana enjoying playing at pace, but with nominal inclination toward defense. But I would almost bet that instead of looking at the 142 his team scored on Thursday night, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is looking at the 132 allowed. That likely will be the focus. And, no, this is not the preferred path to victory. But after losing three in a row, you take it and move on. The Pacers are an NBA outlier and I would presume that Thursday’s game would stand as that, as well, at least when it comes to the Heat’s preferences.

Q: What has stood out to you the most: Duncan Robinson’s all-around improvement and newfound swag? Bam Adebayo’s aggression and improved play on offense? Or the mature NBA-ready skill set of Jaime Jaquez Jr.? I’m so happy we kept Jaime, he looks like the real deal.  – Carlos, West Park.

A: I would agree about Jaime Jaquez Jr. With Duncan Robinson, there always has been the ability to contribute, if perhaps not necessarily with the current versatility. Bam Adebayo previously has shown such flashes, now given more of a canvas with Tyler Herro sidelined. But to get a ready-to-go contributor at No. 18 in the draft is particularly impressive. Let’s be candid, not many rookies win over such instant respect from Erik Spoelstra. Bam Adebayo initially slotted in behind Hassan Whiteside. Tyler Herro played behind Kendrick Nunn. But Jaime has slotted into an essential role practically from the outset. Impressive.

Q: Who do you think poses the biggest obstacle to the Heat reclaiming the Eastern Conference title? In your opinion do the Heat have enough as currently constructed to compete for an NBA title or do they need to add a player at a certain position in order to have a shot at an NBA title this year?  – Ramon, Hollywood.

A: Too early for that. Consider just a year ago where Max Strus and Gabe Vincent stood in the Heat hierarchy, with many (most?) believing that wasn’t enough. There is a reason the trading deadline is not until February. So, for now you take stock, to see if you perhaps are cultivating the next Strus or Vincent to get you to the next level without a major move. Plus, we still need to see more of Tyler Herro with the primary group.