The Miami Heat now look like a shoe in for the playoffs with the Detroit Pistons six and a half games behind, currently sitting in the seventh seed, only half a game ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks. The prospect of them getting any higher then seventh seed seems bleak because of their inconsistency, but what would be the best scenario for the Heat in order to make a run in the playoffs?
Possibly the best case scenario in talking about their realistic seeding chances. Miami has already played Toronto twice this season, winning the first by only a point and losing the second by only three. Miami are the perfect match up for the Raptors. Hassan Whiteside would be the key, as his rim protection prevented DeMar DeRozan from terrorizing down the middle, while also keeping Jonas Valanciusnas and Serge Ibaka under wraps. Goran Dragic is also a great defensive match up for Kyle Lowry, although he was not tested this season due to Lowry’s injury. Erik Spoelstra’s men would then have to find a way to score, which would be tough, but not impossible if they can keep a high tempo most of the game. If the Heat were to be aggressive enough and play at their best for the series, they could bring Toronto to a game 7, but beating them in a final showdown might be a different story.
Although Boston is currently sitting in second place, the Celtics can look like the most dangerous team in the NBA when Kyrie and Tatum are firing on all cylinders. The Heat could solidify the seventh seed and face the Celtics, assuming Boston don’t rise up to first. This may be Miami’s worst case scenario though. Kyrie Irving would just simply be too much for the Heat’s defense. Add the movement and rotation of Al Horford with the a consistent scoring Jayson Tatum and the Heat could get swept quite easily. That is without even mentioning the return of Gordon Hayward which may still be in the works. So simply put, Erik Spoelstra does not want to see green come the end of the season.
Another best case scenario for the Heat. The Pacers are fantastic, even if Victor Oladipo has dipped a bit in form, but Miami have taken two games from them so far in their four game series. Spoelstra found a way to keep a lid on Sabonis and Bogdanovic which lead to the Pacers struggling to keep up with the Heats scoring. This would be one physical series though, as the Pacers and Heat have intrinsic hatred for each other and have had great playoff series in the past. They face again at the end of March for the final game of the series. This will give a better indication of where the two are at compared to earlier in the season, but the Heat getting up to that six spot while the Pacers keep that third does seem highly unlikely.
The same scenario for the playoff picture would have to occur this match up. Cleveland would have to secure the number three spot while the Heat would have to play up to the number six spot. A return of LeBron to Miami though would be terrifyingly fun to watch. It would great to see two young, energetic teams go at each other, seeing who can outscore who. But, the reality is LeBron in the playoffs is probably the best player to ever play the game and that would leave Miami to lose the series no matter how great they played. This is another one Coach Spo does not want to see come to fruition.
Miami have some good match ups still to come, facing the Pacers, Cavs and Raptors one more time each. They were able to grind out a 92-91 victory against the Lakers Friday night, a game that will no doubt boost their confidence going forward. This Heat squad can still be great if Pat Riley can add one more piece to them, but for now, they look just shy of greatness compared to the rest.
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