The Miami Heat could be one losing streak away from being permanently out of the playoff picture this season. Currently Miami hold's the 8th seed and after every win, there's a collective glance at the scoreboard to see results from the Indiana Pacers and Charlotte Hornets match-ups. From three games away from three-peating, to only a half-game lead over the Hornets, this steep fall from grace wasn't expected. But resiliency continues to be shown.
Coach Erik Spoelstra mentioned earlier yesterday how this franchise has never been wired to tank and collect picks. Not only do the playoffs mean something for Pat Riley, but it means something to Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem -- who have reached the postseason in 11 of the 12 seasons they've played. For Goran Dragic to be in the playoff picture no matter which conference. For the young players like Hassan Whiteside, Michael Beasley and Tyler Johnson who have been written off for years to now be on a stage where one can make a name that will be echoed for months on end. To all these players and more, the playoffs is the goal even if it just delaying the inevitable.
Dwyane Wade: 28 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists
Goran Dragic: 17 points, 3 assists, 2 steals
Wade: "I finally got a little rhythm. It helps having guys out there like Goran. We just communicate a lot and have a good IQ of the game."— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) March 12, 2015
Glimpses of next season's hope showed potential again last night through attacking and creating from the Heat backcourt tandem of Dragic and Wade. Dragic opened up 3/3 with Wade facilitating five of the first six baskets (4/6 of those were with Chris Andersen), then it was Wade who took on the scoring himself.
Wade is in 2008 mode and has averaged 30 points a game for Miami in the past three games. Games like this will be required to reach the postseason. Once again he proved that when healthy, he is nothing short of elite.
Chris Andersen: 18 points, 14 rebounds
Udonis Haslem: 7 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists
It wouldn't surprise anyone these days if Hassan Whiteside had 25 points and 23 rebounds last night but due to his suspension, that was the combined total for Bird and UD instead. The two big men were always around the basket at all times, with Bird launching himself to the hoop after every screen and UD getting rebounds on one end and creating basketball touchdowns from them:
All the stars from last night's game were injured in some form, but as Dragic said, this cast is a group of warriors that won't allow themselves to miss many games. Bird then told reporters his mindset, which is probably the team mindset too:
Chris Andersen on his various ailments: "It’s mind over matter. I don’t mind and the pain didn't matter."— Jason Lieser (@PBPjasonlieser) March 12, 2015
While this team may not be good enough to get past the first round, the fight to reach there continues. Miami may be one losing streak away from not making the playoffs, but as long as there's this defiance against losing, they are also one winning streak away from extending their season.