Destiny is a word that’s been used quite a lot over the last week. The Miami Heat, despite their 100-93 win over the Orlando Magic, don’t control their own destiny, but have kept their chance of making the playoffs intact.
With the comfortable win over the Magic the Heat improve to 36-45 which leaves them outside the top 8 in the East, trailing the Indiana Pacers (who are in) and the Brooklyn Nets (who are out). It’s quite simple from here. The Heat don’t just need to win their one remaining game (against the Philadelphia 76ers), but for the Pacers to lose their next two and the Nets to lose their remaining game. Simple. Difficult.
Hassan Whiteside put his free throw woes behind him to lead Miami with 24 points and 13 rebounds, also adding five blocks, including one huge rejection just in front of the rim to deny a rising Aaron Gordon. Dwyane Wade wasn’t exactly accurate (8-of-21 from the field), but scored 22 points which included his unique style of craftiness on the way to the basket.
It seemed the Magic started putting up a fight against their in-state rivals only in the second half, when it was a bit too late. They outscored the Heat by 11 points in the fourth quarter and it still wasn’t very close. With nothing to play for, the Magic just didn’t have the fire the Heat had in the start of the game, trying to make up for all the unnecessary losses along the way that have almost eliminated them from the postseason. It was the 12th time in 13 games Orlando lost to Miami.
It’s been a rough season for the Miami Heat. The departure of LeBron James, the injuries to key players which began with Josh McRoberts and carried on with Chris Bosh in February, ending his season, and possibly in some way putting his life at risk. Wade has had his better and worse days, but it’s clear that he’s far from 100%. He’s never going to be 100% as far as playing basketball at the highest level is the objective.
But the Heat, losing nine of their last 12 games heading into the match with the Magic, are still alive, barely. In a weak Eastern conference, there are no guarantees, so the Pacers and Nets losing their remaining games certainly makes sense and wouldn’t be surprising. But Miami still need to take care of business on their own although by the time they play the 76ers on Wednesday, it could all be over for them.