Did Doc Rivers set up the 76ers for a fall against the Heat? – The Mercury News

Q: Ira, the hero of this series for the Heat is Doc Rivers. If he didn’t have Joel Embiid in for the end of the blowout win, he would be jumping center Monday at FTX Arena. Doc should get a championship share. – Wes.

A: First, let’s not jump the gun on any championship shares, considering the possibility that Joel Embiid still could be back at some point during this series, and that the Heat still are 12 wins shy of rings. And, to a degree I can appreciate Doc Rivers’ perspective that you simply don’t want to pull a player too early and then have to rush him back when the opposition drains three or four 3-pointers. And that is how the game has changed, that comebacks now often come in multiples of threes. Plus, let’s be honest, that whack that Joel took from Pascal Siakam could have come during any point of any game. Mostly, it was unfortunate timing. Actually, what is surprising is the way Doc has been pushing back lately against outside chatter, first about blowing previous series leads, and now the timing of not pulling Joel. When that type of chatter hits home, you have to wonder if it all isn’t hitting too close to home.

Q: While this Miami Heat team lacks a “true superstar,” it has also become a one-for-all approach with players who are filling their selected roles perfectly. – Rod, Sarasota.

A: I’m not sure that Jimmy Butler shares your perspective about the Heat lacking a superstar. And considering the salaries being paid to Jimmy, Bam Adebayo and Kyle Lowry, the front office clearly believes there are ample leading men. For as much as players such as PJ Tucker, Max Strus, Gabe Vincent and Caleb Martin have contributed, it still revolves around the play of Jimmy, Bam and Kyle. If they are not at the top of their games at this stage of the season, then winning becomes appreciably more difficult.

Q: Who should the Heat be pulling for: Boston or Milwaukee? – Edwin.

A: The perspective here is the Celtics present a more significant challenge, although both present problems. But the Heat have shown over the past two-plus seasons that when they are at the top of their game, they can handle the Bucks. That has not been as much the case against the Celtics.

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