By Shane Phillips @ShaneRantSports on March 30, 2014
It has been a long and grueling season for the defending NBA Champions, but with April right around the corner, the end is in sight. That doesn't mean that everything is done, set and decided. No, no, no; first place in the Eastern Conference is still up for grabs, and that might be more important than people realize. Here is a breakdown of the final 10 games for the Miami Heat and a possible shot at home-court advantage.
Miami will have a nice test from the young and energetic Toronto Raptors. Having their best season since the Chris Bosh era, the Raptors are looking to hold off the Chicago Bulls for third in the East. However, with home-court advantage on the line, there is no reason why the Heat shouldn't win this game at home.
At this point, the Milwaukee Bucks would be better off playing their dancers instead of their players. With the worst record in the entire league, it will be the second match-up between the two teams in less than a week. That being said, if Miami does not blow out Milwaukee, then I am not a sports writer.
As the Minnesota Timberwolves continue to lose grip of the race for eighth in the Western Conference, the Heat should take advantage of a fumbling team and franchise because the games after this don't get much easier. The defending champs must defeat the easy opponents and the Timberwolves are one of those.
The New York Knicks are making a late-season playoff push and have been playing some decent basketball over the last month. So there is no reason for Miami to take this team lightly or rest any of their stars. It is quite possible that the Heat and Knicks could meet in the first round. The Heat must use this final regular season meeting as an opportunity to send a message. Just because you have Phil Jackson doesn't mean you are any better.
If Miami gets swept by the Brooklyn Nets, then they should go crawl under a rock and die. Honestly, to be 0-3 against a team that spent the majority of the season under .500 is unacceptable. Plus, do the Heat really want to give that much confidence to an average basketball team, especially if there is a chance of a second round match-up? I don't think so.
Miami's front court has proven to be a never-ending issue and has shown little improvement. Well, the Memphis Grizzlies sure will give the Heat big men a reason to improve. Unless Chris Bosh and Chris Andersen decide to step up, play post defense and rebound the basketball, Marc Gasol and Zack Randolph will have a field day. The champs should use this as a chance to improve. After all, the Indiana front court is very similar.
The final regular season meeting between the "Beasts of the East" should be even more exciting than the first three. I mean, the bad blood between these two squads runs deeper with each game and home-court advantage is on the line. Miami might be safe and sound in South Beach for this match-up, but the Indiana Pacers will bring it. It is as simple as this: The Heat MUST win this game.
The Atlanta Hawks have found themselves in a downward spiral and their playoff chances are in serious jeopardy. That is all good news for the Heat, who are looking for easy prey down the stretch. Now Erik Spoelstra may be resting some of the stars by this time, but Miami should still be able to win this game even if Wade or anyone else is out.
Honestly, this game could go either way because I don't expect Wade to play. Heck, Spoelstra could rest the entire "Big 3", who knows? It really all depends on the home-court advantage situation and what Spoelstra feels is necessary. The Washington Wizards just want to make the playoffs. It will be a tough game for both squads, but it all depends on who plays for the Heat.
I don't care if the Heat decide to play their entire D-League team; if they don't win this game, then they don't deserve to be in the playoffs. We are talking about a Philadelphia 76ers team that lost 26-straight games. This is a 76ers team that did not experience the taste of victory for two months. Miami could play this game with their eyes closed and win. Don't expect any of the "Big 3" to play, but expect the Heat to win.
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