Tuesday, September 27, 2022

With the NBA reaching the Final Four, the Heat’s ‘meaningless’ season-ending loss in Orlando could be big

It has been described largely as the Miami Heat’s meaningless season finale, often as “the Miami Heat won six games in a row to secure a No. 1 playoff seed in the Eastern Conference before their futile regular-season finale. “

It turns out, a month after the fact, the 125-111 Apr 10 loss to the Orlando Magic at Amway Center wasn’t so meaningless, after all.

Instead, it could potentially be pitted between heat and homecourt advantage in the NBA Finals.

The Heat halted their entire primary rotation in Orlando that evening, and with the Golden State Warriors defeating the New Orleans Pelicans later that night, the Heat and Warriors closed out the regular season with a similar 53–29 record.

Because Golden State won the two-game season series win, that would mean a homecourt advantage for the Warriors in a potential NBA Finals against the Heat.

However, the Heat entered the playoffs as the No. 1 seed.

And even though the Warriors entered as No.

For Heat coach Eric Spoelstra, there’s no looking back on what could happen.

“At the time,” he told the Sun Sentinel ahead of Tuesday night’s start of the Eastern Conference finals, “we were just focused on keeping people healthy.”

So no Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Kyle Lowry, Tyler Herro, PJ Tucker, Max Strauss or Dwayne Deadmon that night – essentially what was the primary rotation at the time.

Instead, enough time for fill-in starters like Haywood Highsmith, Michael Mulder and Omar Yurtseven, and even Javonte Smart and Udonis Haslem just minutes away from the bench.

Of course, at the time, the league-best Phoenix Suns, the No. 1 seed in the West, were more likely to emerge from that side of the bracket, or even the No. 2 Memphis Grizzlies.

But then the Grizzlies lost to the Warriors in the second round, with the Suns losing their Sunday Game 7 to the Dallas Mavericks in their Western Conference semifinals.

So, yes, if the Mavericks, who closed the regular season 52-30, defeated the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals and met the Heat in the NBA Finals, it would be the Heat as a home team.

Otherwise, if the Heat does find its way through the Eastern Conference Finals, it will prove to be a fruitless April night in Orlando, after all.

Spoelstra said he and his staff accepted as much at the moment, while Butler stayed behind in Miami, even as Highsmith launched 17 shots and the Javonte Smart 14 in one night where the heat focused Victor Oladipo’s 40. -The point was high on the outing. Which increased the magic to only 22-60..

“We were aware of all the scenarios,” Spoelstra said.

There were warriors too.

So that same night, as nearly all of the Heat’s familiar faces sat down, the Warriors, still playing for a playoff seeding in the Western Conference, joined the Thompsons in their victory over the Pelicans with regulars such as Klay Thompson, Drummond Greene and Jordan Poole. Started off. Going for 41 points in 31 minutes that night.

Of the Heat’s last five trips to the NBA Finals, he won against the Mavericks in 2006 as the bottom seed, lost against the Mavericks in 2011 as the bottom seed, won against the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012 as the bottom seed. Won as a high seed against the San Antonio Spurs in 2013 and lost as a lower seed against the Spurs in 2014.

But, no matter the season-end defeat in Orlando, Spoelstra said. That was then. Now the focus is on these Eastern Conference finals, with their Tuesday night debut against the Boston Celtics at the FTX Arena and an immediate challenge at hand.

So if that means flying to San Francisco first might be deemed necessary, under a best-case-scenario of making the NBA Finals, that would be a diversion with a payoff.

“It would be a big problem to think about,” Spoelstra said, “if we were able to get through this series.”


Nation World News Desk
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