Miami has lost four games in a row and are barely able to field enough players to meet the NBA minimum. This isn't an exaggeration, as their 15-man roster has been reduced to its barest bones, as evidenced by the injury report released by the team on Monday (via Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel):
This does not instill confidence that a playoff berth is still an option.
Which isn't to say that, in the short term, Tuesday's game against the Hornets isn't winnable. Charlotte, currently a half-game back of Miami in the Eastern Conference standings, has dealt with similar issues to the Heat, namely inconsistency and injury. Center Al Jefferson might miss the rest of the season due to right knee inflammation. Cody Zeller (shoulder) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (ankle) might miss the game at Miami. And everyone's favorite ex-Pacer, Lance Stephenson, has been an absolute debacle, picking up a couple of DNP-CDs (Did Not Play - Coaches Decision) as he's apparently fallen out of favor with head coach Steve Clifford.
Still, a win will be difficult, with Charlotte taking 2-of-3 matchups with the Heat this season. If you want some glimmer of hope, it's that the Hornets don't play well away from home (not that they play particularly well anywhere), having dropped six of their last seven road games.
It's impossible to tell who will be in the lineup for Miami and how they might fare against the Hornets. Chris Andersen and Hassan Whiteside are still listed as questionable, forcing Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra to field a smaller lineup that might be missing Luol Deng and Michael Beasley, both of whom were injured in Sunday's blowout loss to the Pacers. We can expect (hopefully) that Goran Dragic and Dwyane Wade will be starting but from there, it's anyone's guess.
But if the Heat have any chance of making the playoffs, a win against Charlotte would be their best bet. They'll soon host Chicago (Thursday, Apr. 9) and Toronto (Apr. 11). Those teams are still playing for playoff seeding so they won't likely be resting anyone, making a win nearly impossible. Then again, nothing has been easy for Miami and the end of a long, brutal season won't be any different. The hope here is that the team just makes it past the next few games without picking up another major injury along the way.
WHEN: Tuesday, April 7 at 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: The game will be played in Miami at the AmericanAirlines Arena
TV/RADIO: You can see the game on Fox Sports or via NBA League Pass and you can hear it on 104.3 FM
OFFICIAL GAME TICKETS: Available right here direct from Ticketmaster.com