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After a Rollercoaster Season, the Heat Are Headed to the Play-in Tournament for the Second Consecutive Year



Credit: Heat Twitter

The regular season is now over, and after an up-and-down 82-game season mired by injuries, the Miami Heat finished as the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference with a 46-36 record. Miami finished the year 7-3 over their last ten games and secured two consecutive wins against the Toronto Raptors. The Heat was hoping to jump into the 6th spot to avoid the play-in, but they did not control their own destiny as recent losses put their playoff fate out of their hands. Miami not only needed to win its final two games, but they also needed losses from the Pacers and the Magic, and even help from Philadelphia. In the end, it was too much to overcome, and for the second consecutive year, the Heat will have to fight for their playoff lives.

How did Miami end up in this predicament? The Heat played this year with multiple lineups, having many of their stars and key role players such as Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, Jimmy Butler, and Bam Adebayo miss time due to injuries. Jaime Jaquez Jr was having a phenomenal rookie season, winning Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month two months in a row before he got hurt.

Another factor was Miami’s home record this year. It seems Miami didn’t have much of a home-court advantage as they went 22-19 at home this year. For context, the Heat had a better road record, going 24-17 on the road for the year. It seems Miami was more focused on the road and might have taken some games for granted at home, or at least did not play with the effort that they did on the road.

A controversial loss to the Indiana Pacers could have allowed Miami to bypass the play-in. In that game, the league admitted that Tyler Herro was fouled on a three-pointer that was not called with 55 seconds left, while the league called a foul on Bam Adebayo with 17 seconds left that was also made in error. The end result? Miami lost that game 117-115 in what was potentially a five-point swing that sent the Heat to the 8th spot.

Coach Spo and the Heat are not about to make any excuses. “Look, this is the best time of the year, these kinds of environments, the games, the context, all of that. You can’t expect it to be easy, no matter what the scenario would be,” Spo said after Sunday’s contest against the Raptors. The fact that Miami was even in that situation to allow officiating errors to determine a playoff spot is more on Miami’s body of work during the season than on two plays during an entire season of 82 games and thousands of plays during the year.

For the Heat, their focus is now on a road game where they will play the 7th-seeded Philadelphia 76ers. If Miami wins on the road, they will get the chance to face the second-seeded New York Knicks. If Miami loses, then they will need to play a do-or-die game against the winner of the Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks at home. If Miami is able to win that, they would face the number one seed, Boston Celtics.

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