The Miami Heat May Keep Their Pick After All

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A season of misery may lead to the lottery for the Miami Heat.

To tank or not to tank. It’s been a polarizing question ever since it became evident the Miami Heat aren’t going places this season. Regardless of where you may stand on the topic, it is apparent that the Heat won’t tank. Pat Riley told Bleacher Report’s Ethan Skolnick

"“For me, it’s not through the draft, because lottery picks are living a life of misery. That season is miserable. And if you do three or four years in a row to get lottery picks, then I’m in an insane asylum. And the fans will be, too. So who wants to do that?”"

For Heat fans, this season has been “misery.” So to end up with a lottery pick may be the only way to find validation.

Miami’s 2015 first round pick is currently owed to the Philadelphia 76ers, though it’s top-10 protected. If the Heat, now ninth in the Eastern Conference, fall to one of the eight worst records in the league, they will be guaranteed to fall in the top-10 and keep their pick (the ninth worst record comes with a .004 chance of falling out of the top-10, so the Heat would probably be safe there, too).

Currently, the Heat have the 12th-worst record in the NBA. This team might just be bad enough, as currently constructed, to keep its pick.

According to Hollinger’s playoff odds over at ESPN.com, the Heat have a 33.7 percent chance of making the playoffs despite being just a half-game behind Charlotte for the eighth seed, whose odds are 42 percent. That means that Miami’s odds of making the playoffs are closer to those of the Celtics (29.9 percent) than the Hornets.

The Heat are 8-25 against teams with .500 or better records this season and 21-11 against teams worse than .500. Of Miami’s 17 remaining games, nine are against teams better than .500 and eight are against those worse than .500.

Those good teams are Cleveland (twice), Portland, Oklahoma City, Atlanta, San Antonio, Milwaukee, Chicago and Toronto. So, basically, they aren’t playing teams just a few games better than .500. They are playing some of the elite of the NBA. Maybe they can squeak out a win against Milwaukee, Chicago or Toronto but, at best, Heat fans are hoping for 3-6 across these games.

As for the below .500 lot, we’re looking at Denver, Boston, Detroit (twice), Indiana, Charlotte, Orlando and Philadelphia.

Denver and Boston are each riding three-game win streaks and seem to be putting together a late push. The Pacers have basically locked up a top-7 seed with their surging play, and that Charlotte game will be a competitive one, since they will also be in the mix for the final playoff spot.

Check out the Miami Heat’s remaining schedule here

Still, the Heat could potentially win any of these games. Denver may roll over by March 20, chances are the Heat win at least one of those Detroit games and Orlando and Philadelphia should be wins. At worst, 4-4 is probably a safe bet.

Mar 6, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (7) shoots the ball as Washington Wizards guard Garrett Temple (17) looks on during the second half at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

According to playoffstatus.comthe Heat have the 14th hardest strength of schedule in the NBA for its remaining games. Thought it’s been a rough season? According to ESPN’s stats, the Heat have had the 24th toughest strength of schedule for the entire year. Based on these numbers, it’s only going to get worse.

What we are looking at is, potentially, something between 34 and 37 wins, which projects to put the Heat in the mix somewhere between nine and 12.

But you never know what to expect with this Heat team. We’ve seen them click and pull out big wins against the Cavs, Bulls, Clippers and others. With Hassan Whiteside back from his suspension and Goran Dragic and Dwyane Wade playing (knock on wood) this is, relatively, as healthy as the Heat have been this season. If they are going to string together some games, now would be the time.

However, we’ve seen the Heat get to a point where we thought they were ready to take a step forward, only to take two steps back. It’s been a season of misery for Heat fans and, even if this team doesn’t tank, it could lead to the Heat keeping their pick.

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