The 26-30 Miami Heat only have 26 games remaining in their schedule, and with the weeklong rest they just got from All-Star break, we could see some nice streaks from the Heat leading to the playoffs.
This 2018-19 NBA season has been a rollercoaster of good and bad turns for the Miami Heat, ranging from the return of Dwyane Wade for his final season, the surprisingly low extension of Justise Winslow, trade rumors surrounding Jimmy Butler for Josh Richardson, All-Star Goran Dragic’s two month knee injury, a Derrick Jones Jr. scary fall, Tyler Johnson and Wayne Ellington being shipped elsewhere, leading to Ryan Anderson becoming the 13th man on this Heat roster, to even Head Coach Erik Spoelstra being criticized and questioned all season long, this team has been a headache, for better or worse.
However, with Miami being tied with the Detroit Pistons as the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference, the Heat have now decided they are far away from any mentality of tanking (to many fans’ disappointment) and have decided to go all-in once again with this roster, hoping to get Dragic and Jones Jr. back from their injuries tonight against a Joel Embiid-less Philadelphia 76ers.
This fighting mentality begs the question: Do the Heat have what it takes to get on a few winning streaks in the backend of this bewildering season?
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My answer is fairly wishy-washy, the Heat have 26 games remaining this season, which is, funnily enough, league-leading with the most games left to play, with 7 teams having 23 games left to play. And while that stat, face value, doesn’t have too much to say, those extra 3 games could be the difference of the Heat becoming the 6th seed, to the 9th seed.
Between the 6th (Brooklyn Nets) and 11th (Washington Wizards) seeds, there isn’t too much of a difference of those teams that fill in the middle (Magic, Hornets, Heat, Pistons). And between the 1st and 5th seed, there will be zero teams falling out of those seeds, even with a potential superstar injury (see Indiana Pacers with Victor Oladipo). Therefore, for the final 26 games, Spo and Pat Riley need to make it clear to this Heat team that they need to fight for that 6th-8th spot, and literally cannot afford to not make the playoffs, or you can expect each player to be shipped off this summer.
In terms of strength of schedule for the remaining 26 games, here are the pros and cons of what Miami has left.