Remember how good the Miami Heat looked after throttling the Memphis Grizzlies 138-119 March 15? It marked the Heat’s first double-digit win in two months.
All those memories washed away after Miami gave up 70 first-half points to the 10th-seeded Chicago Bulls, fell behind by 25 and ultimately lost last night. So much for Jimmy Butler blasting Nicelback turning around the season.
It’s been a hallmark of this season — after every moment fans think the Heat will string together some wins, Miami falls flat on their race. It happened a week ago, after a good Heat win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. The next night, the Heat fell in overtime to the Orlando Magic, prompting Butler to play Nickelback in the locker room.
It also happened back on Dec. 2, when Jimmy Butler returned from injury to lead the Heat over the Boston Celtics in overtime. At the time, I called it “the type of win that eases the anxiety of the Heat fanbase.”
That was short-lived.
Miami lost their next two games after defeating the Celtics — first to the Memphis Grizzlies, and then an embarrassing 20-point loss to the Detroit Pistons, the team the Heat face tonight.
The one saving grace for Miami is that there’s still movement among the top three teams in the Eastern Conference. As I said, the best-case scenario for the Heat is to face the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round. And the Sixers currently hold the second seed.
That means if the Heat finish seventh — which is becoming likelier and likelier — and defeat the Atlanta Hawks, Miami would face Philadelphia in the first round. While Miami wouldn’t be favored in the series, they’d have a better chance than if they faced the Milwaukee Bucks or Celtics.
The Heat have lost too many games to take control of their destiny. They need to hope for a monumental collapse from the Brooklyn Nets and, failing that, the Sixers to take the two seed.