Miami Heat are ‘playoff-less’, but not hopeless

The Miami Heat’s 110-102 win over the Wizards should be a celebration rather than just a commemoration, for the team will miss the playoffs by a whisker in a tie-breaker with the Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers.

The Heat made history in their miraculous second-half effort of the 2016-107 regular season, rattling off a league-best 20 wins in 24 games just after starting 19 games below .500. They shocked the league with their incredible turnaround, finishing the regular season at 41-41.

The Heat were eliminated with wins from Pacers and the Bulls, mainly accredited to the Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawk’s controversial move to rest all of their starters. The ridiculous decision to rest the starters at the last game of the season left a black eye on the NBA.

The Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawks’ ‘forfeit’ negatively impacted playoff seeding, and could be an omen that this could be a future NBA
trend.

Heat fans may be upset, but should be proud of their team; for their resiliency should be respected, and Heat President Pat Riley felt mutual about this. Riley was greatly disappointed that his team missed the playoffs, but was pleased with the effort in their second-half turnaround of the season.

“I love what we built,” said Riley.

Riley and his Heat Nation can feel a great sense of optimism with the chemistry the team had built towards the last half of the season. The Heat’s momentum looks to stay a float when Dion Waiters makes his return.

Waiters shined in big moments when he was in the lineup, averaging nearly 19 points and 5 assists during the two-month stretch before his injury. The Heat went 20-4 with him in the lineup, according to USA Today’s Adi Joseph.

Miami was on pace to win 48 games with the momentum the team had built with the former OKC guard, which could’ve been enough to grab the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference. The team immediately saw the impact Waiters left on the team during their miraculous turnaround of the second-half of season.

The Heat organization have the mutual feeling that, if Dion Waiters was completely healthy, they make the playoffs easy.

Now Miami has to put aside their playoff heartache and focus on the offseason, for they have many decisions to make. While the Heat have there building blocks set – Goran Dragić and Hassan Whiteside, they need to lock down key role players who will be free agents this offseason.

Of those free agents, who will be getting paid big money this 2016-2017 season, is James Johnson.

One of the most improved players of the year, James Johnson, has become a force to deal with at the power forward position. Johnson, just alike his teammate Waiters, impressed his peers with his strength and conditioning.

Not only Waiters and Johnson have improved with their play, they have upgraded their fitness and overall health. Both Heat players have lost weight, and felt mutual it benefited their play.

The work ethic of Erik Spoelstra and his players were certainly recognized this season, and will be even more renowned when they make damage in the playoffs next year. Miami will need to focus on keeping some of their key players on the roster this offseason, wether they have to make a trade or even release veteran players like Chris Bosh.

Photo by Keith Allison [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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