The Cavaliers continue to struggle and the Heat continue to win.
Should Miami want Cleveland as its opponent in the first round of the playoffs? (Note: If the season ended today, the Heat and Cavaliers would meet in the first round because Miami is in the seventh spot and Cleveland is second in the Eastern Conference.)
We answered that question and more in this week’s installment of the Heat mailbag. If you weren’t able to ask a question this week, send your questions for future mailbags via Twitter (@Anthony_Chiang and @tomdangelo44).
Wayne, Plantation: Should the Heat want the Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs over the Celtics?
Anthony Chiang: It sure seems like the Cavaliers would be the preference with the way they are playing. Since Jan. 17, Cleveland is 18-16. During that same stretch, the Heat have a 26-8 record and the Celtics have a 22-12 record. The Cavs are STRUGGLING. Defense has been a huge issue for Cleveland, as it ranks 28th in the NBA with a 111.4 defensive rating during this span of games. Plus, Miami has fared better against Cleveland this season. The Heat are 2-1 against the Cavaliers, compared to 0-4 against the Celtics in the regular season.
All signs point to the Cavaliers as the easier first-round opponent for the Heat, right? Wrong. Cleveland still has LeBron James. LeBron’s teams are known for mowing through the first round, and facing him in the postseason is never fun or easy. As much as it looks like Cleveland is struggling — and the Cavs are struggling — the Heat should root to avoid LeBron in the playoffs. Boston might not have been an easy matchup for Miami in the regular season, but the Celtics are the more favorable opponent when it comes to the postseason.
@HeatNationMunoz: Who would you bring back — Wayne Ellington or Josh Richardson?
Anthony Chiang: I’m not sure the Heat have to choose between the two. Josh Richardson’s $1.5 million salary for next season is non-guaranteed, but it might as well be guaranteed. Unless Miami decides to trade Josh, it’s not letting him go with that cheap contract. As for Wayne Ellington, the Heat have a team option to bring him back next season for $6.3 million. With the way Wayne is playing on a fairly affordable contract, his return is a real possibility. So if I were the Heat, I would bring both of them back because they each bring good value to the roster.