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Miami Heat: Third Quarter Progress Report

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Chris Bosh went down hours after the Heat traded for Goran Dragic. But players like Henry Walker and Tyler Johnson have emerged as pleasant surprises for the Heat.

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The All-Star break has come and gone, and the Miami Heat are trying to make a playoff push in what has become one of the wildest seasons for this franchise. Check out Matt Pineda's mid-season progress report and my first-quarter progress report from earlier this season.

For a brief moment, the Heat seemed to be back. Pat Riley had pulled off the improbable yet again Feb. 19, trading for 2014 All-NBA Third-Team point guard Goran Dragic for spare parts and two draft picks (he managed to ship off Danny Granger's carcass in the process). With Dwyane Wade back and Hassan Whiteside established as the starting center, Miami appeared poised to emerge as the sneaky-good low seed top teams try to avoid.

Within hours, though, Twitter became aflutter about Chris Bosh entering a Miami-based hospital. Reminiscent of Alonzo Mourning's crushing kidney ailment diagnosis in 2000, the Heat announced that Bosh would miss the rest of the season with blood clots in his lungs.

LeBron James left over the summer, and Bosh's 2014-15 campaign ends with just 44 games played. You could say this Heat season has not gone according to plan -- at all.

Still, this team has shown grit recently. Miami's theme for this season could be one of resilience and perseverance -- even in the faces of countless obstacles, this team has played hard. New players have emerged as quality NBA players.

Heat fans could see it in victory and defeat -- take the Heat's two most recent games. Miami overcame a 16-point deficit to defeat the Sacramento Kings Saturday night. Whiteside, Luol Deng and Dragic were all out, Tyler Johnson and Michael Beasley combined for 42 points on 16-for-29 shooting from the field. Without Wade, the Heat nearly rallied from a 35-point deficit in a two-point loss to the Washington Wizards.

Take the Heat's crazy comeback in Orlando Feb. 25. Miami was down eight points with 42 seconds left. I repeat, Miami was down eight points with 42 seconds left. Henry Walker made two clutch 3s to send the game into overtime, and Wade took control in the extra session.

Riley may not have many draft picks, but he's found some quality young players through the Heat's D-League team, the Sioux Falls Skyforce. This New York Times piece on the Skyforce from last year highlights the partnership between the pro team and the D-League club. Riley estimated that 80 to 90 percent of the Sioux Falls sets are identical to those used by Erik Spoelstra. The result? When Miami needs bodies after injuries deplete the team, it can find players who will fit in seamlessly with the team. It's no accident that Johnson and Walker played well once they came aboard.

We've also seen Michael Beasley reinvent himself as a hustle player and Whiteside gobble up boards and develop a preternatural level of chemistry with Wade on the fly.

All of these positives don't discount the uneven nature of the Heat's play as a young team. The Heat blew a winnable game in New Orleans Feb. 28. Indiana is riding a five-game winning streak and moved past Miami in the playoff standings for seventh. Miami is in eighth place, with Charlotte right behind. Every game counts post-All Star break.

Moreover, this Heat team has questions going into next season. How will Hassan Whiteside's impending free agency affect his play next season? Will Miami pay Dragic? The list goes on.

But this team has come together and played with exuberance and toughness after Bosh went done. As a fan, that's all you can hope for -- that the team will play together and play hard whoever is on the court.

FINAL GRADE: B