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Skyforce win record 39th game & could help Heat in playoffs

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The loss of Chris Bosh knocked the Miami Heat down, but not out of the post-season mix. The unexpected stellar play of D-league alumni Hassan Whiteside and Josh Richardson helped minimize the damage.

The Sioux Falls Skyforce won their D-League record 39th game, to stand at 39-9 for the season. They may become the first D-League team to ever win 40 games in the league's 50 game schedule, which wraps up its regular season this weekend.

Numerous teams in the NBA have suffered major setbacks this year due to key injuries, but none have shown the resilience of the Heat to bounce back even stronger. With Chris Bosh, Tyler Johnson and Beno Udrih out, the Heat's bench players and Pat Riley's key trades kept Miami's chances for a playoff berth alive, in part due to players with D-league experience.

The current 13-member Miami Heat squad has two spots open to reach the NBA maximum limit of 15 players before the end of the regular season. One or two of those positions may be filled by a member of the record-setting Skyforce team.

Although currently not in the NBADL,  Dorrell Wright remains a distinct possibility as an addition to the team with his familiarity of Heat's system. Still available as a free agent, he could fit in and still keep it under the salary cap if signed when conditions permit.

Coach Dan Craig is a lock for coach-of-the-year, who has prepared the Skyforce players to seamlessly blend in with the varsity Miami team if called up. Some of the players that could be in the running for the final roster spots include:

1. DeAndre Liggins, who is the assist leader with some NBA experience. Craig didn't realize he had, "such a high basketball IQ or that he was such a great playmaker." Liggins converted 5 of 7 3's in the record-setting game.

2. Rodney McGruder, "comes to work every day and plays hard for every single minute that he’s out there and in practice he’s always going at 110%," according to Craig.

3. Keith Benson, at 28 is a D-League veteran, who saw some action with the Warriors in 2011-12.

4. Greg Whittington, a Summer League favorite, who was one last players cut from Heat squad in October. A 23-year-old out of Georgetown he averaged 14 PPG, with a 0.346 3PT% shot and 8 rebounds in Sioux Falls.

5. Briante Weber, a roadrunner and lockdown defender, who recently played out his 10-day contract with the Grizzlies. His tenacious, high motor, Patrick Beverley-type style might suit the new look Heat.

Udonis Haslem has seen precious few minutes this season and is available for relief. Gerald Green and Josh McRoberts are looking to work their way back into the rotation, if they can regain their early season form. Only 13 players can dress during a game, so even the current team members will have a tough time to get meaningful minutes. There are possibilities for any outcome, since few predicted Josh Richardson's would become a rotation player and crack the top ten in numerous rookie ladders.

By all accounts the Miami Heat should have been road-kill this season with the adversities they faced. Because a team can never have enough depth, having a 15-man squad could help the Heat in case of an emergency if a key player isn't available during a do-or-die series.