Heat don’t quit, show fight in staying in hunt for playoff berth
MIAMI — After the Miami Heat’s 100-93 victory against the Orlando Magic on Monday kept their postseason hopes afloat, head coach Erik Spoelstra opened his postgame media availability session with a quote from the comedy classic Dumb and Dumber.
"So you’re saying there’s a chance," he said with a smile.
Indeed, despite everything, the Miami Heat remain alive in the playoff race with their win coupled with the Brooklyn Nets losing to the Chicago Bulls. Their fate still hinges on the Nets losing to the Magic in their final game of the season, the Indiana Pacers losing their final two games and the Heat defeating the Philadelphia 76ers on the road Wednesday.
The odds are small, but the Heat will keep trying.
"It’s out of our hands, but you can see that the guys care about each other," Spoelstra said. "They care about the results and the only thing we can do right now is come together and play a game like this tonight and get a win."
The Heat could have waved the white flag on the season, rested their starters and coasted to the end of the regular season as they waited for the draft lottery. Instead, they went back to work Sunday for a one-hour practice at AmericanAirlines Arena after a tough home loss to the Toronto Raptors on Saturday and then came together to celebrate Chris Bosh’s birthday at night.
If there were any doubt the Heat wanted to walk away with the win against the Magic, the stats spoke of their effort: a season-high 66 points in the paint and 22 second-chance points. Even still, the victory was not assured until the final moments of the game against an opponent who has won on the road only 12 times in the past two seasons combined.
On fan appreciation night, the team gave their supporters a positive experience to close out the home slate of the regular season.
"As we always say and people don’t know, we have a great fan base," Dwyane Wade said. "It is easy for anyone to be here during the good times, but when you are not as good and you are a middle of the pack team or at the bottom of the barrel, how good is your support then? Our support has been amazing all year. We just appreciate them so much for that."
Glimpses of a bright future for the Heat were evident in the victory. A dominant Hassan Whiteside recorded his fourth double-double in his past five games and had his way in the paint, and point guard Goran Dragic displayed his knack of penetrating and finishing at the rim.
"It means a lot," Whiteside said of grabbing one last home victory. "I really felt like the fans deserved 100 percent every night, regardless of the standings. We just came out here and competed the best we could."
With several disappointing losses robbing the Heat of the chance to reach the postseason on their terms, all they can do is wait for results from other games to determine their fate. If the teams they are fighting with for the final eighth playoff seed in the Eastern Conference win at least one game, the season will be officially over.
"It is great that there is still hope," Whiteside said. "We’re still going to play as hard as we can. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, we’re still going to try to win against (the 76ers)."