MIAMI – According to all the metrics, the Miami Heat’s season will end tonight.
The Heat have about a 25 percent chance to find themselves in the playoffs at the end of tonight’s games, odds based primarily on Chicago or Indiana being upset by the Nets or Hawks.
Miami (40-41) needs to defeat Washington and have either the Bulls or Pacers lose to finish with the eighth seed. If both lose and the Heat win, Miami grabs the No. 7 seed.
Meanwhile, FiveThirtyEight has both the Bulls and Pacers at 88 percent, ESPN has them at 83.7 percent and PlayoffStatus.com has the Bulls at 92 percent and the Pacers at 82 percent.
The Hawks clinched the No. 5 seed with their 103-76 win over the Hornets Tuesday, giving them little incentive to play their key players tonight in Indiana.
The Nets have announced they will be resting center and leading scorer Brook Lopez, forward Trevor Booker and point guard Jeremy Lin in Chicago. In addition, three players are out because of injuries, Quincy Acy (ankle), Joe Harris (shoulder) and Sean Kilpatrick (hamstring).
Also, both Indiana and Chicago are trending in the right direction. The Pacers enter the game having won four in a row by an average of 13.5 points. The Bulls have taken advantage of a very favorable schedule down the stretch by winning 6 of 8.
With all game starting at 8 p.m., Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was asked if he would be checking out the other scores.
“No, I won’t,” he said. “Concentrate just on us. For me it’s distracting. Plus I want to be in the moment with our guys tomorrow in a really competitive game.”
The Heat are tied with Chicago and one game behind Indiana. With the Bulls owning the tie-breaker over the Heat and the Heat with the tie-breaker over the Pacers, Miami is in essence one game behind both teams.
Playoffs or not, the Heat still are trying to make history. With a win, Miami will have completed the league’s greatest turnaround, going from 19 games under to .500. Miami was 11-30 at the midway point and will flip that mark to 30-11 in the second half if it defeats the Wizards.
No team has ever gone from more than 12 games under at any point in the season to finish with a .500 or better record.