Playoff update: Heat fall out of playoffs after Pacers win; can regain eighth spot with win tonight

The Heat need a win tonight in Charlotte to jump back into the playoff picture. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

CHARLOTTE – The Miami Heat have fallen back into the ninth spot in the Eastern Conference and out of the playoffs. … for now.

Indiana’s victory over Toronto Tuesday moved the Pacers, 38-40, one half game ahead of the Heat, who remain 37-40 entering tonight’s big game at Charlotte.  A win tonight, though, and Miami moves  back into the eighth spot.

The Heat did receive some good news Tuesday while they were idle. The Hornets, who had won 7-of-9, lost in Washington to fall to 36-42, 1.5 games behind Miami and remain 10th . And the Bulls, also surging with four straight wins, found out how the Heat felt last Friday by losing to the Knicks.

The Bulls fall back to 38-40, tied with the Pacers, one half game ahead of Miami. Chicago, though, is No. 7 because it owns the tie-breaker over the Pacers by virtue of a better division record.

The Heat can jump back into a three-way tied with the Bulls and Pacers by beating the Hornets tonight. If that happens, the Bulls would remain No. 7 and the Heat would move into the eighth spot because of tie-breakers.

The Bulls have the easiest schedule remaining of the three with four games against teams with losing records – at Philadelphia, at Brooklyn, home against Orlando and Brooklyn.

After facing the Hornets, the Heat go to Toronto and Washington and finish with home games against Cleveland and Washington.

The Pacers host Milwaukee before traveling to Orlando and Philadelphia and finishing up at home against Atlanta.

No. 5 Milwaukee lost some of its momentum by losing at Oklahoma City. The Bucks remain fifth, one half game ahead of No. 6 Atlanta.

[Despite recent struggles, Heat still believe they are in good position to make playoffs]

[Dion Waiters will not play Wednesday vs. Hornets, but could join team on three-game trip]

[Heat really miss Dion Waiters down the stretch in close games]

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