The Miami Heat had to fight and claw their way into the playoffs in the Orlando bubble. They lost four of their final games before sneaking in as the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. Then, the Heat somehow caught lightning in a bottle to advance to the NBA Finals.
While the roster and chemistry are a bit different in 2021, there is enough good ju-ju from last year’s improbable run to squeeze out. The Heat knows every date left on the schedule should be treated like a playoff game and it starts tonight on the road versus the San Antonio Spurs.
Veteran guard Goran Dragic spoke on the team’s mood on Wednesday when he boldly declared “this is already the playoffs for us,” per the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
“Every game counts. Every game the preparation is more detailed, the team needs to play at a higher level, and that’s what is expected,” Dragic told reporters after shootaround. “This is already the playoffs for us.”
The Heat (32-20) reside in seventh place in the East right now, right behind the Boston Celtics (32-30) due to a tiebreaker. Miami would be shoe-horned into the dreaded play-in tournament if the season ended today, reserved for those teams seeded No. 7 through No. 10. That’s not the goal.
“It is important. We don’t want to be in that,” Dragic said of the play-in tournament. “We want to be safe and play hopefully at home. That’s our goal.”
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) April 28, 2021
The Heat will need to climb up to the fourth spot to claim home-court advantage. Landing outside of the play-in tournament would also secure five extra days of rest.
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Those Kyle Lowry Rumors Won’t Go Away
It seems as if each passing day provides a new path for the Heat acquiring Kyle Lowry. With the Victor Oladipo experiment seemingly on life support, the chances of Miami making a legitimate run at the six-time All-Star guard in the offseason seem pretty good.
According to The Athletic’s Sam Amick and John Hollinger, the franchise remains very much in play for Lowry and the move makes extra sense since they are the only team “in a financial position to possibly sign Lowry outright this summer.” The new report also mentioned the Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Lakers as potential landing spots.
Yet among the three teams known to be in hot pursuit of Lowry back then — the Lakers, Miami and Philadelphia — only the Heat are in a financial position to possibly sign Lowry outright this summer. Sources say the Sixers still plan on pursuing him by way of a possible sign-and-trade. While they added George Hill at the deadline in lieu of Lowry, only $1.2 million of his $10 million salary for next season is guaranteed, and the deal expires at that point. The Lowry interest remains very strong there.
Not for nothing, Jimmy Butler and Lowry share a special bond on and off the court. Butler recently revealed that Lowry is the godfather to his daughter.
Despite all the rumors, Kyle Lowry will be staying in Toronto!
• The 76ers were unwilling to give up Matisse Thybulle, Tyrese Maxey, and picks!
• The Lakers were unwilling to give up Talen Horton Tucker!
• The Heat were unwilling to give up Tyler Herro! pic.twitter.com/BEqR5V61xe
— SportsALERTdaily (@sportalertdaily) March 25, 2021
Heat-Spurs Injury Report
The Heat confirmed Victor Oladipo (knee) would be out for Wednesday night’s game versus San Antonio. They also listed Tyler Herro (foot) and Kendrick Nunn (neck) as questionable for the pivotal game. The team usually provides a supplemental injury report about 90 minutes prior to tip-off.
Heat injury report for Wednesday vs. Spurs
Victor Oladipo (knee): out
Tyler Herro (foot): questionable
Kendrick Nunn (neck): questionable
Gabe Vincent (knee): probable
Duncan Robinson not on injury report, after leaving Monday’s game with stomach illness.
— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) April 27, 2021
Miami has 10 games remaining before the playoffs, including six road games and a crucial back-to-back (May 9, May 11) against the Boston Celtics. Every game is important.