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ASK IRA: Are different horses best Heat approach to different courses?

Q: To me, I always found a basketball team to be more effective when consistently playing an eight- to nine-man rotation, as it allows the players to get comfortable in their roles and be utilized accordingly on a consistent basis. This is what we have seen so far on this trip. With this team, once everyone is healthy, it will be anything but that. Erik Spoelstra so often plays guys based on matchups with the opponents rather than just sticking to his best nine guys. My biggest concern is seeing Wayne Ellington and Rodney McGruder get crunched out over the next few weeks considering their ability to space the floor. Do you see the Heat make a trade to thin out the roster or do you see Miami just riding the season out with this team and constantly changing the rotation to the frustration of the players and fans? — Aaron, Coconut Grove.

A: I’ve actually come around to changing my thinking on this. I believe that as long as you are not sitting out elite-level talent — which is not the case with this Heat roster — then there is something to be said for different horses for different courses. In other words, if you believe a certain rotation would work better against a specific team, then why not best utilize your roster? I do agree that it becomes an impediment when a lot of players are used in a game for so few minutes that they cannot develop a rhythm. So instead of going 10, 11, 12 deep, it could mean sitting some players for certain games and playing them for others. On this roster, I believe you could potentially do that with everyone but Goran Dragic, Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson (the latter two because of their development potential). But that could be a hard, hard sell to players such as James Johnson, Hassan Whiteside and even Dion Waiters. That’s where it gets dicey. But this also is a not a roster easily thinned out, considering the contracts attached.

Q: When it comes to Hassan Whiteside and Bam Adebayo, Hassan is clearly the better player. However, could this be a situation where the better player isn’t the better option? Erik Spoelstra loves playing small, and Bam Adebayo is quick enough to play in the system Erik Spoelstra wants to implement. However, Hassan has also proven that a dominant big man, can kill the pace-and-space system by being an active presence in the paint, something Bam at times isn’t. — Roman, Orlando.

A: I am going to be interested to see how Hassan is utilized when he returns Friday in New Orleans, especially after this solid run by both Bam and Kelly Olynyk. Erik Spoelstra could find himself in a tough spot. But Wednesday’s loss in Utah, when the Heat were slammed on the boards, served as a reminder of how significant Hassan’s rebounding can be.

Q: Ira, Pat Riley is trying to recapture the Miami Heat team that went 30-11 over the second half of 2016-17. Maybe the Heat should realize that the present-day Heat are actually the team that went 11-30 the first half of that same season, and that the only real resolution is to play the young players (especially Yante Maten) and let Tyler Johnson, James Johnson, Dion Waiters and Hassan Whiteside, sit at the end of the bench serving as a reminder of how bad decisions have crippled our team for years to come. — Julio, Cape Coral.

A: It still is too early for that, based on some of the recent flashes, particularly the run of four victories in five games prior to this two-game losing streak. I think it would be unfair to James Johnson to bench him before he regains his legs, or to not even allow Dion Waiters the opportunity to show if there remains something to contribute when healthy. Such a time might be coming. But that time is not now. Follow him at or

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