Miami Sports Day

NBA: Heat Tied for Final Playoff Spot in East After Road Win

The Miami Heat haven’t clinched a playoff berth, but they’ve kept those hopes alive. Considering they started this season 11-30, that qualifies as miraculous.

If the feeling possessing head coach Erik Spoelstra’s players following another win over the Washington Wizards stays, good chance more miracles remain.

Hassan Whiteside had 30 points and 12 rebounds, and James Johnson hit the go-ahead layup with 11 seconds left as the Heat helped their playoff hopes with a 106-103 win over the Washington Wizards on Saturday night.

Johnson had 15 points and 11 rebounds for Miami (39-41), which improved to 3-0 over Washington this season and moved into a tie with Chicago for the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls own the head-to-head tiebreaker by virtue of winning the season series 2-1.

Only two playoff slots remain available, though Miami could move all the way into sixth depending on upcoming results. That the final two games have meaning — an uncertainty after Friday’s 96-94 loss at Toronto — had Spoelstra waxing poetic.

“What do you want as a pro athlete? Do you want a life more ordinary? Really, you want to play. These guys in the locker room right now feel alive,” Spoelstra said. “You can’t pay enough money to feel like that. Regardless of what the results are — even last night. Guys were despondent walking out of there, but by the time we got on the plane guys were starting to feel stubborn about it. Above everything they feel alive. That’s beautiful.”

Markieff Morris scored 21 points for the Wizards (48-32). John Wall had 16 points in Washington’s regular-season home finale. Bradley Beal also had 16 points, but Whiteside blocked his potential game-tying 3-pointer in the closing seconds.

Washington, which committed 20 turnovers, fell one game behind third-place Toronto in the East.

“Nobody really got open, including myself,” Beal said of Washington’s final play. “We just didn’t execute the right way and the result was a bad one.”

The lead changed sides repeatedly in the final minutes. Wall split two free throws as the Wizards led 103-102 with 20.6 seconds remaining. After a timeout, Miami cleared out for Johnson, who dribbled from the backcourt all the way for an easy basket.

HEAT NOTES: Heat F Luke Babbitt (hip) missed his second game in a row. … Markelle Fultz, the projected No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, attended the game. The D.C. native averaged 23.2 points during his freshman season for the University of Washington. … Miami hosts Cleveland on Monday. The Heat lead the season series 2-1, including a 120-92 home victory on March 4. … Washington’s final two regular-season games are on the road starting with Monday’s matchup at Detroit. The Wizards and Pistons split the first two games

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *