ASK IRA: Does No. 1 in East make it a memorable Heat season? – The Denver Post

Q: Ira, will the Heat get a banner for finishing first in the East? — Billy.

A: No, and it is just another way the NBA has marginalized its regular season. The team that advances to the NBA Finals is considered the conference champion, as is the case with the Heat’s 2020 Eastern Conference banner that hangs from the rafters at FTX Arena, after the Heat finished that regular season fifth in the East. In some ways, that is where traditional soccer standings have the edge on the NBA, giving the regular season proper due, considering the grueling 82-game grind, compared to needing to win just 12 games to become conference champion in the playoffs. It also is why you have seen some teams backing off at the top of the East. Basically, the regular-season conference championship is a celebration for about a day. Then you move on to the playoffs, planning for what ultimately matters in the NBA.

Q: The demise of Duncan Robinson (by the “fans”) seems to have been greatly exaggerated. Maybe he won’t be starting, but every team needs a 3-point man like him. — David, Plantation.

A: And I also think the Heat made a statement by not playing Victor Oladipo on Tuesday night, as if to quiet any further debate about Vic’s value compared to Duncan Robinson’s. The Heat have a commitment to Duncan, and games such as Tuesday night show why. That’s not to say there won’t be games where his role is marginalized, such as when Max Strus is on a roll. But it appears the opportunity very much will remain ongoing.

Q: As I stated last week, bring ‘em on. I’m still not worried about Brooklyn one bit. As long as we play our game, I still believe Heat in 5. That’s with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving averaging a combined 65 points per game. This isn’t optimistic Heat fan talk, either. This is just me telling you Mr. Winderman exactly what’s going to happen before it happens, Nostradamus style. — Swann.

A: And yet for all the possible consternation about what could happen if the Heat open against Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and the Nets, we still won’t know what happens until the play-in tournament. And that could require the Nets winning two games. But it certainly would be more than your typical No. 1-vs.-No. 8 playoff series if it does come to that. I believe most would agree at least with that element.

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