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Is it time for the Miami Heat to shut it down?

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A turbulent regular season is coming to a close and the Heat currently sit at the ninth spot in the East. Is it worth it to try to make it to the playoffs?

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What I'm about to say is probably going to be a very unpopular opinion among Heat fans:

It's almost time to shut it down and give up on the 2014-15 season.

As it stands right now the Heat sit at 29-36, a half game behind the Charlotte Hornets for the #8 seed in the playoffs and a half game above the Boston Celtics who currently are 10th.  Perhaps more importantly, the Heat sit with the 11th worst record in the NBA and the Celtics have the 10th worst (tied with Utah).

Why is that important?  The Heat forfeit their 2015 first round draft pick to the Philadelphia 76ers if it falls outside of the top 10.  If the season ended today the Heat would miss the playoffs and would need a minor miracle to keep their pick (the 11th worst record has a 2.9% chance of moving in to the top 3, which is the only way the Heat would keep the pick).

I'm not ready to give up juuuust yet.  A half game is not much to make up, and the Heat are still scheduled to face off head to head with the Hornets and Celtics one more time each.  The playoffs aren't out of reach by any means.

But if you look at Miami's upcoming schedule you realize their chances may be grim, with 10 of their remaining 17 games against playoff teams and that doesn't include a road matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder and a road game at Boston on the tail end of a back to back.  John Hollinger's formula predicts the Heat make the playoffs just 33% of the time versus 42% for Charlotte and 30% for Boston.

Charlotte has nine games remaining against playoff teams and Boston has 11.  The remaining schedule isn't a cakewalk for either of those teams.  Miami is still in it.

But should they want to be?

What's the upside for this Heat team?  If they do finish as the #8 seed (which is the highest they can get in all likelihood given Indiana's surge) they will meet the Atlanta Hawks in the first round.  The Heat are 0-3 against the Hawks this season with one matchup remaining.  The Hawks are so confident that they can beat the Heat that they actually sat four rotation players in the last game against Miami and still ended up winning.

Is it worth sacrificing a draft pick to get run off the floor four times?  I say no. It would be a different story if the Heat could end up with a potentially favorable first round matchup, but there's no chance of that happening.  Even if the Heat do get hot and end up in the #7 seed they would find themselves staring LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the face, and as much as I'd love for the Heat to beat that team ... It ain't happening.  Not this year.

The Heat will probably continue running their starters out there for at least a few more weeks, but they're looking at a potential 2-5 stretch in their next seven games which would really start to derail their playoff chances (and that's assuming they win games against an improving Denver team and a Boston team fighting for their life).

The best case scenario for the Heat at this point is that they fall below both Boston and Utah in the standings and finish with a top 9 pick to almost guarantee that they keep the pick (if they finish 10th they risk being jumped and knocked out of the top 10).

Next season the Heat will trot out a starting 5 of Goran Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside with 6th man Josh McRoberts.  That's a really, really good team. That team doesn't fight for its playoff life, it fights for homecourt advantage.  Wouldn't you be happier with that team if you had somebody like Justice Winslow or Devin Booker off the bench at a reasonable price?  I would.

And it isn't even just about next season. This Heat team has a small window. Wade and Bosh aren't exactly a young core and if the Heat want to win one more ring with them they're going to need an infusion of youth.  Adding a solid young talent to next year's team could be critical.

The Heat are a prideful organization. Pat Riley, Erik Spoelstra and Wade are not quitters, and that's why I'm not sure they're thinking the same way I am. With that said, if the Heat are on the outside looking in when April rolls around, wouldn't it make sense to keep some miles off Dwyane Wade's legs and see what you have in Tyler Johnson and James Ennis going forward?

The Heat aren't going to give up yet, but it's a conversation worth having.