The Miami Heat fell to the seventh seed after losing to a Brooklyn Nets team that just traded away Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. That’s not a guaranteed playoff appearance. Miami would need to win a play-in game to make the postseason.
In the past two weeks, the Heat have now lost to the Nets and Knicks — the two teams ahead of them in the standings. The Cleveland Cavaliers, currently the fourth seed, had a seven-game win streak snapped last night. Instead of feeling like the Heat could leapfrog all those teams to secure home-court advantage in the first round, two straight losses have put the Heat back in danger.
We saw this happen two years ago. We know where it’s headed. And no buyout option — not even Kevin Love, who could help Miami as a shooting big next to Bam Adebayo — can turn it around.
A week ago, after the trade deadline came and went without any move beyond the Dewayne Dedmon salary dump, I said Miami’s inactivity was inexcusable. Extended absences from Kyle Lowry and Victor Oladipo have decimated the Heat’s bench, which was already thin going into the season. The one scenario that would signal light at the end of the tunnel would be an overhaul around Jimmy Butler and Adebayo this summer.
Over the summer, Tyler Herro’s contract becomes easier to move. Kyle Lowry, heading into the final year of his contract, also becomes easier to move.
For the two seasons that Dwyane Wade made the All-NBA First Team — 2008-09 and 2009-10 — the Heat prioritized salary cap flexibility over short-term improvements. Miami lost in the first round both times, but they added LeBron James and Chris Bosh that summer.
Now, something like that won’t happen this summer. But that’s the only way that we won’t shudder when we look back on this stretch of the season — with Jamaree Bouyea, Haywood Highsmith and Orlando Robinson all getting big minutes.