The Miami Heat are arguably coming off their best stretch of the season, with huge wins over the Cleveland Cavaliers and Portland Trail Blazers.It couldn't have come at a better time as Miami was out of the playoff picture for a brief while and has now climbed into the 7th-seed in the Eastern Conference standings. But is that good enough? With the Milwaukee Bucks (the current 6th-seed) struggling, should Miami look to move their way up the standings?
Earnest Christian: Four wins in their last six. Two wins this week over legitimate NBA title contenders. It's not earth shattering news but given the way this season has gone the one positive we can lean on right now is Miami is playing arguably it's best stretch of basketball all season and at the right time. That in itself makes the 6 seed all the more attainable and a larger priority should the opportunity continue to present itself as such.
David Ramil: I think you're mistaking a nice run (and exemplary play by Dwyane Wade) as something sustainable for the remaining playoff push. At this point, simply making the playoffs would be an accomplishment, given the inconsistencies, multiple lineups and injuries that have befallen the team. Is the sixth-seed a goal? No, and it shouldn't be. It's more important to keep developing the chemistry on the court that Wade and Goran Dragic have shared, plus keeping Hassan Whiteside from any future outbursts that could cost the team. It's all about the big picture and this year's postseason isn't a legitimate concern.
Christian: Here's whats odd. The very thing you that said was a long shot and wouldn't happen and the thing you said was still in play weeks ago is now in fact. Miami now sits 2.5 GB of a Milwaukee team that has faded in the worst way, really, dating back to the all star break. And while I do see them ultimately making the postseason regardless, the idea that they and Miami given their current state of affairs presently is going in polar opposite direction gives so to my argument that Miami can honestly acquire the #6 seed and in the long term actually give them a better percentage of chance to actually win a playoff series as they would draw out of the Chicago/Toronto/Washington triplets in round 1 and avoiding the Atlanta/Cleveland disaster.
Ramil: Now you're not looking at whether the Heat can reach the sixth seed but whether or not they should. (cue Jeff Goldlum in Jurassic Park) If you're asking me which matchup I would prefer for Miami if and when they make the playoffs, I want them to face Cleveland. I'm nearly the certain the outcome would be a series loss but it's the matchup I want to see - so many story lines and such incredible players from both teams. But you're making the playoffs sound like a foregone conclusion and that's the basic problem with this question. There are 15 games left in the regular season, seven at home and eight away. The away games are rough, including matchups with Oklahoma City, Milwaukee, Boston and Atlanta (a four-game road trip that begins on Sunday) as well as games at Cleveland - an early taste! - Indiana and Detroit. Of those seven, Miami would be lucky to win four. Home games versus San Antonio, Charlotte, Chicago and Toronto (in your mind, a potential playoff preview) and you can see why even making the postseason is a challenge.
Christian: In the short term Miami is about to catch a few breaks. They play Denver on Friday in a game that they should win if they continue playing the way they've been and the afternoon soirée in Oklahoma City will most likely be without Kevin Durant amid reports that he's going to be out indefinitely with continued foot issues. Obviously nothing is a guarantee and seeing how this season has gone, Miami has earned zero stock of trust this year from its fans. But I like surprises and hopefully they continue this upswing as we approach the ever important beginning of April.
Ramil: Look, I always hope that they'll win - that's never the question. I just don't think they will win enough to seriously entertain the sixth seed and, moreover, that's an unrealistic focus. They've dug a hole for themselves and it's more about playing consistently and staying healthy for the rest of the playoff run...if they win enough to pass Mlwaukee, great. But I'm not going to sweat it nor do I prefer them to do so. I think I speak for a lot of fans that if we're wishing for something out of Miami's playoff run, it will be for them to face LeBron James and the Cavaliers and find a way to knock them off or at least challenge them for seven games. Everything else, as they say, is just gravy.