There has been endless discussions about this upcoming NBA draft. Discussion about Miami's chances increasing per loss. Studies of the possible lottery picks that would fall into Miami's lap as the 10th pick or better. There has been plays you've seen from from Duke and Kentucky, and it made you wonder how just ONE of those players can impact Miami's offense in the coming years. How if all goes well, the Heat could find Dwyane Wade's possible replacement in THIS draft. There has been plenty of discussions of all the ping pong possibilities. Well guess what? Miami refuses to listen.
Not a word of that nonsense in the locker room. Pat Riley looks at the "NBA Draft" it as if it's a plague. Erik Spoelstra furiously shakes his head when asked about it. Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic make it obvious that even though this season has taken a turn for the terrible, they want nothing more than to extend it a few more games, even if it means the delay of an inevitable end.
It's no secret Miami will be quickly discarded come playoff time. Brushed aside without much effort. Miami has gotten beaten by the Atlanta Hawks bench while their starters were out, so think about what Atlanta could do in a playoff series? What's surprising is that the Heat already have seen the talents of the Hawks and yet still want to push themselves just to get there. That's how meaningful the playoffs are to this franchise.
Dragic has a bad back. Wade has terrible knees. Hassan Whiteside barely has a hand. Chris Andersen has one functioning leg. Udonis Haslem throws down dunks but throws up food. The entire core of the Heat is ravaged by injuries. So why continue to push for the Playoffs? Pride.
The pride to say that no matter what hurdle this basketball season has thrown, Miami responded by its place in the playoffs. Pride that it's worst, this team can still make the postseason, so imagine what this team can be at its best?
The Heat are still a half game away from the eighth seed. They don't control their destiny any more. But even at a long shot, this team feels like that slim chance is enough to push on. Miami is limping to the finish line with just about every game having a player dealt with an injury that will take a noticeable toll for games to come. Spoelstra himself doesn't know who's even available a mere hours before tip off. Players are playing at half-speed and damaged but still play because they believe that they have something to offer even if it will hurt.
So go ahead and offer the reasoning to tank with a few games left. Talk about the potential of so and so and how he would take Miami further next year. It doesn't matter what the story line for the Draft is, Miami won't listen. Why? Because of the pride of the playoffs, means more than the pursuit of a pick.