ASK IRA: Will defense, shooting, turnovers outweigh homecourt in Heat-Celtics Game 7?

Q: For Game 6, as much as I can “appreciate and soak in this one for all it was worth,” wouldn’t losing three out of four home games in a series be looked at as unacceptable? – T.G, Queens, New York.

A: Not against an opponent of this caliber, arguably the more talented team, arguably the healthier team. That’s not to make excuses if it were to happen, just that I would not overstate homecourt in a matchup like this. Both teams have shown the ability to look very good, regardless of the venue. And both teams have shown the inconsistency to also look rotten at home. Of all the factors in play for Game 7, I’m no longer sure that venue would be at the top of that list. Seemingly more significant is which team defends better, which team shoots the 3-pointer better, and which team cuts down on the turnovers.

Q: Isn’t it weird that the year the Heat had that great finish, 30-11, Dion Waiters, who was playing great, got hurt and the Heat didn’t make the playoffs. In the last two deep runs in the playoffs, Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic were hurt two years ago and now Tyler Herro, Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry this year. Strange for the best conditioned team. Go figure. – Stuart.

A: In a way, you also answered part of your question, when you mentioned “deep runs.” The longer you play, the greater chance of injury. And I know many will point to the supposed grueling practices and extensive training sessions. But that simply has not been true this season. The Heat barely held practice at all this season, especially over the second half of the season, particularly during the playoffs. They also cut back, way back, on game-day shootarounds. Often the lone prep for games was a pregame walkthrough of less than an hour. Sometimes injuries just happen. And sometimes they happen at all the wrong times.

Q: Miami Heat are preparing prospects for the summer league? To do what with them? Sit them on the bench the entire playoffs like Omer Yurtseven, while like him they could have helped the team tremendously in a series like the one with the Celtics? That’s preposterous. – Masoud, Tucson, Ariz.

A: The jump from summer standout to rotation player rarely is a one-season proposition. So in many ways, Omer Yurtseven is right on schedule. The point of the piece about the Heat working with young players even amid the playoffs is that a youth injection is important with so many older players on the roster. So you can do both: win now and prepare for the future. In many ways, that has made these past six weeks a win-win proposition.

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