5 Must-win games over the Miami Heat’s stretch run

Miami Heat v New York Knicks
Miami Heat v New York Knicks / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages
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The Miami Heat kick off the stretch run of the season with Friday night’s game against the Pelicans in New Orleans. That game is the start of a four-game trip that will take Miami into the final 27 games of its schedule. 

Coming out of the break, the Heat are 30-25 and in seventh in the East. The goal is to climb the East standings and avoid getting stuck in the play-in tournament for the second straight season.

The Miami Heat can climb the crowded Eastern Conference standings if they win some key games down the final stretch.

Ahead of the Heat are the sixth-place Indiana Pacers (half-game up), fifth-place Philadelphia 76ers (2.5 games up) and fourth-place New York Knicks (three games up). For the Heat, climbing as far up as fourth may be possible, especially considering ongoing injury concerns for the Knicks and 76ers.

Fortunately, the Heat have the league’s seventh-easiest remaining schedule. By comparison, the 76ers have the 26th-easiest remaining schedule, the Knicks have the 22nd and the Pacers have the 13th.

With that goal in mind, here are five games the Heat should circle on their calendar during this stretch run.