Q: Jimmy Butler is not going to be running all over the place and creating a path to the foul line with Marcus Smart back. Mr. Butler, meet the Defensive Player of the Year. – Alton.

A: No city listed with this one, but I did sense a New England accent when I read it (or maybe it was the Sam Adams that I’m drinking while typing). Or could it be: Mr. Smart meet foul trouble. Yes, should Marcus Smart be able to push past his mid-foot injury and return for Game 2 of Heat-Celtics, he certainly injects another defensive element into the Celtics’ mix. But at this point, emerging as a Jimmy Butler stopper this postseason might be something easier said than done.

Q: My approach this whole season with the Miami Heat has been one of cautious optimism: We won, playoff Jimmy Butler is playing on another level, P.J. Tucker and Bam Adebayo are defensive mavens and Gabe Vincent is a revelation. But after Tuesday night’s game, I can’t shake the feeling that the Game 1 stats are a bit alarming: we lost three of four quarters and the one quarter we won was literally an historic performance by the Heat. Ira, am I being overly analytical or are my concerns valid? – Christian, Dubai, UAE.

A: I’m not sure I’ve ever heard as much about quarters won during a playoff game than after Tuesday night’s Game 1 of Heat-Celtics. Summer league? Yes. On the game’s biggest stage? Who cares? The final score is the only statistics that matters at this point of the schedule. The single quarter won by the Heat likely created more doubts for the Celtics than anything Boston did to instill fear in the Heat from the other three periods. If the Heat only win four quarters this series and that also wins four games, I can guarantee they would be more than willing to allow the Celtics to revel in their triumphant bounty of quarters won. Quarters won? WTF?

Q: Perhaps Kyle Lowry’s unknowing contribution will be the mentorship of Gabe Vincent. I firmly believe Gabe Vincent grew as a player and is now delivering the results because of Kyle Lowry. Gabe Vincent was nowhere this good prior to Kyle Lowry showing up in Miami. – Rod.

A: And quality mentorship obviously is meaningful. But let’s also credit the perseverance and dedication that got Gabe Vincent to this point. And also credit the Heat for not reaching for an average guard in free agency and instead leaving the runway clear for Gabe’s emergence. Sometimes all you need is a chance.


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