ASK IRA: Will the upcoming schedule determine the course of the rest of the Heat’s season?

Q: Now is the time for the Heat national team, management and fans to look forward to better seasons ahead. The top five playoff spots in the Eastern Conference are out of reach, and are currently occupied by teams that are significantly better than the Heat. Nine of the 14 games behind the Lakers are against top teams, and at the end of those games, the Heat will be closer to the playoffs than a sure thing. – Morgan, New Orleans.

A: Or will they? The upcoming games, including five against the Nuggets, Jazz, Clippers, Lakers and Suns, could be the perfect litmus test. And, yes, if 0-5 then maybe you’re on to something. But just when it seemed like it would sink to the abyss (or rise to something significantly better), it leveled off and started anew. So the question remains whether the Heat still have a chance, and how long management is willing to wait. Given the opportunity, I expect the evaluation period to last at least until the Feb. 9 NBA trade deadline.

Q: Ira, Udonis is an icon for the Heat, his role on the roster is well known, but regardless of injuries or rest decisions, he’s not the starting center — as he sadly did against the Rockets Proving he did more with skill than score in 11 minutes. – Bill, Palm Beach Gardens

A: However, the Heat have stuck to their commitment that Udonis Haslem can have a spot on the roster as long as he wants. Even on Monday night, in the absence of Bam Adebayo and Dwayne Dedmon, the Heat still had Heywood Highsmith at center after Nikola Jovic and Orlando Robinson got into foul trouble. At this point, you accept it and move on because the promise doesn’t change.

Q: Ella, at this point, if the Lakers are willing to trade Duncan Robinson and Kyle Lowry for Russell Westbrook, go for it. Watching this team is like watching paint dry. Zero excitement. At least Russ will bring athleticism. – Juan, Miami Beach.

A: If there is such a deal (there is no such sign), it is to get rid of Duncan Robinson’s contract. Eliminating cap space next summer by accepting Duncan’s contract makes little sense if the Lakers still make any business sense. The Lakers could do better if they wanted to. Or they can wait and accept what this season has become.