With a second consecutive loss and only two games left to play, the Miami Heat are almost out of the playoff picture following their 107-104 loss to the Toronto Raptors, finishing strong in the fourth quarter through DeMar DeRozan and Lou Williams.
DeRozan scored 24 points including 9-of-11 from the bench while Williams, maybe the Raptors’ best player over the last month or so, added 29 points. The Raptors started the fourth quarter trailing the Heat but after the game was tied at 94-94 with 2:11 to go, five consecutive points from DeRozan and Williams helped them create some separation, something the Heat couldn’t bounce back from.
A Luol Deng free throw made it 99-97 with 51 seconds left, but a Lou Williams three pointer and some bad attempts at actually generating some offense or a shot didn’t really help the Heat escape their awkward situation, leaving them 2.5 games behind 8th in the East with only two games left to play, now needing not just to win their two remaining games (facing the Orlando Magic and the Philadelphia 76ers), but for the Celtics, Pacers and Nets to pretty much lose whatever they have left. The Heat need to jump over at least two of them.
The Raptors also have something to play for; finishing third in the East, which puts them on a direct path with the milwaukee Bucks. They’re level with the Bulls after 80 games (48-32) but have the tiebreaker advantage. Finishing third might not be such a delight, as it means meeting the Cavaliers in the conference semifinals if the higher seed in each series goes through. Finishing fourth sets a team up with home court advantage in the first round and playing the Atlanta Hawks next.
The Heat actually played one of their better games of basketball recently, shooting 45.7% from the field and turning the ball over just seven times. However, they didn’t make the most of their offensive rebounding and Hassan Whiteside, grabbing 18 boards, eight of them on offense, was sent to the line time after time, where he couldn’t convert, finishing with just 4-of-16.
Dwyane Wade finished with 30 points and Goran Dragic had 22, but the entire concept of depth has almost disappeared and withered away from this team and the season went by. Mario Chalmers and Tyler Johnson gave the team almost nothing and Michael Beasley was limited to just six points. From making four NBA finals in a row, the Heat are on the verge of crashing out without even a postseason appearance to show for it. Injuries have been an issue, but it’s more than that. This team simply played badly when it mattered the most.