The Miami Heat closed their six-game home-stand with a 3-3 record. It wasn’t as bad as some feared, given how lackluster Miami played after the All-Star break. But it didn’t build enough momentum to put the Heat in the sixth seed, the last guaranteed playoff spot.
Some thought the Brooklyn Nets would tank after trading Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant before the trade deadline. But as we saw from Brooklyn’s win over Miami Feb. 15, the Nets have no plans to give up.
In fact, the Nets defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 124-123 in overtime last night. Miami’s good win over the Cleveland Cavaliers last night didn’t make up any ground between the sixth-seeded Nets and seventh-seeded Heat. Miami remains two-and-a-half games behind Brooklyn.
The Nets have some tough games coming up, though. Brooklyn will face the top-seeded Denver Nuggets tomorrow and the second-seeded Sacramento Kings March 16. And on March 25, the Heat will host the Nets.
As Jimmy Butler says, Miami needs to start stacking wins. They can’t afford to drop these next two winnable games — tonight at the Orlando Magic and March 13 against the Utah Jazz. FiveThirtyEight currently projects the Nets to finish 46-36 and the Heat 44-38.
The best-case scenario for the Heat this season is to face the Philadelphia 76ers in the first-round as the 3/6 match-up. Miami doesn’t have a prayer against the Boston Celtics or Milwaukee Bucks in the first round this year. But Butler has shown as recently as last night that he still can carry a team. And going against his former team, and we might see an advance to the second round. And while a regression from last year’s finish, at least that’s better than the first-round sweep we saw in 2021.
February 9, 2023