The Miami Heat could keep their hopes of escaping the play-in tournament alive with a win against the Wizards tonight, and a little help.
By beating the 76ers on Thursday night the Miami Heat kept their hopes of earning the No. 6 seed — and escaping the play-in tournament — alive ahead of tonight’s game against the Wizards. Here’s the latest update on playoff scenarios with one weekend left in the regular season.
- If the Heat (43-37) win their final two games (at Washington Friday, vs Orlando on Sunday) and the Nets (44-36) lose their final two games (vs Orlando Friday, vs Philadelphia Sunday) the Heat would earn the No. 6 seed and the Nets would drop to No. 7.
- Meaning, if the Nets win either of their final two games, the Heat would be locked into the No. 7 seed of the play-in tournament.
- If that’s the case, the Heat would host the No. 8 seed at Kaseya Center on Tuesday. With a win, they’d advance to the playoffs as the No. 7 seed and play the No. 2 seed Celtics. If they lose, they’d host the winner of the 9-10 game with the winner advancing as the No. 8 seed in the playoffs.
According to Basketball Reference’s playoffs probability report, the Heat have a 29.9% chance of landing the sixth seed. They’d need help from the Nets, but this three game win streak has mathematically kept them in the mix.
The suspense could end tonight with a Nets win or Heat loss. The Wizards have waived the white flag on the season and are listing key contributors Bradley Beal, Kyle Kuzma, Monte Morris and Kristaps Porzingis as out. For Miami, Kyle Lowry will not play on this second night of a back-to-back.
Meanwhile, the Magic have listed all five starters — Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner, Wendell Carter Jr., Markelle Fultz and Gary Harris — as questionable, setting the stage for an easy Nets win at home.
A Heat win and Nets loss could trigger a dramatic final day of the regular season, with both the Heat (vs the Magic) and Nets (vs Philadelphia) playing huge games that tip off at 1 p.m.
If the Heat do end up in the play-in, the race for their opponent is equally dramatic. The Hawks (41-39) and Raptors (40-40) are currently eighth and ninth in the East. In a similar scenario to the Heat and Nets, if the Hawks lock up the No. 8 seed with a win in either of their final two games. If the Hawks drop both and the Raptors win their final two, the Raptors would get the No. 8 seed.
The difference between the No. 8 and No. 9 seed in the play-in tournament is huge, since No. 8 gets two chances to win one game and advance while the No. 9 seed must win back to back games on the road to make the playoffs. The Hawks and Raptors also both play at 1 p.m. Sunday.