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ASK IRA: Can Heat grow from loss to Raptors?

Q: Is there such a thing as an encouraging loss after blowing a 17-point lead? Probably not, but I’m liking what I’m seeing from Justise Winslow at the point and I’m sure everyone else is. — Victor, Bethlehem, Pa.

A: It becomes an encouraging loss if it leads to something better going forward, namely victories in the final two games of this homestand — on Friday night against what’s left of the Cavaliers and Sunday against the post-Jimmy Butler Timberwolves. The Heat clearly got up to play against the league-leading Raptors. But it’s the games against teams such as Cleveland (who the Heat play twice in less than a week) that likely will determine the final record and potential playoff seeding. Wednesday’s ability to fight the good fight will quickly fade with the type of missteps that Heat had taken earlier in the season. Wednesday’s loss left the Heat a mere half-game ahead of the surging Nets for the final East playoff seed. The most important games for the Heat? The next one.

Q: We are a team that plays a ton of close games. It’s terrible that we may miss out on the playoffs or get a worse seed on account of free throw shooting. At the NBA level, is there anything that can be done about free throw shooting or is a team pretty much what it is? — Sal, Miami.

A: Obviously work on the practice court can pay dividends. But the Heat’s 6 of 12 on Wednesday night largely was built off of Hassan Whiteside’s 0 for 3. Yet the misses that might have hurt most was the pair that Tyler Johnson missed after stealing a Raptors inbounds pass with 2:54 to play. Conversions there could have been particularly demoralizing. Sometimes it’s as much about the timing of the misses as the amount. The real free-throw story Wednesday was not getting to the line enough.

Q: Terrible shot selection at end of Wednesday’s game. You need a two and Dwyane Wade is playing hero ball. Love D-Wade, but not smart basketball, — Jonathan.

A: Unless, of course, it goes in. Keep in mind that Dwyane hit a 3-pointer with 64 seconds to play that put the Heat up one. But, yes, off an inbounds play with 14.4 seconds to play, you would have thought there could have been a better look, perhaps something going to the rim to at least create the opportunity for a whistle. Follow him at or

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