MIAMI – If one of the following happened, the Miami Heat would be preparing today to play either the Boston Celtics or Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs instead of cleaning out their lockers:
- One more Heat win or. …
- One more loss by either the Bulls, Pacers or Bucks.
That’s a lot of bad karma.
“It doesn’t feel like the basketball Gods shined down on us,” coach Erik Spoelstra said.
When the margin is this razor thin it’s easy to look back and beat yourself up over different moments, different games that could have made a difference. Maybe not healthy, but easy.
So here are 5 games the Heat wish they had back.
March 31, 2017: New York 98, Miami 94.
Goran Dragic said Wednesday this the game that will stick out to him.
“We played at home, we knew what kind of situation we were in,” he said. “Every game counts, every win. I think that’s the one that really hurts.”
The Heat had hammered the Knicks in New York just two nights early and the Knicks were without Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah for the rematch. Kristaps Porzingis led a rag-tag group that had 28 wins but jumped off to an 11-point lead early. Miami never made a serious charge, never having a lead of more than point and led for a total of 1:48 in the game.
The last chance came with the score tied at 90 but the Heat missed 8-of-9 from the floor and two key free throws in the final five minutes.
Dec. 20, 2016: Orlando 136, Miami 130 (double OT).
This is the game that Tyler Johnson says will stick with him.
The Magic came to Miami with a 12-17 record, five games ahead of the 9-19 Heat. But Miami lead at the end of the first quarter, at the half, after three quarters and held a five-point lead when Dragic made a 3-poiner with 48 seconds to play.
But the Magic forced OT on an offensive rebound and twisting put back by Serge Ibaka with 1.1 second remaining in regulation and then, after Dragic made 1-of-2 free throws with 16.4 seconds to play in the first OT, the Magic tied the score with two free throws. Justise Winslow’s miss meant a second OT.
Miami never led in the second OT, falling behind by eight, and being outscored 18-12. The Heat killed themselves at the line, shooting 21 of 31 for the game.
Dec. 3, 2016: Portland 99, Miami 92.
The Heat were looking to sweep this three-game road trip after defeating Denver and Utah, and were coming off an uplifting one-point win at the Jazz.
Miami jumped out to a 12-point first quarter lead, surrendered that advantage in the second quarter but were in a back-and-forth game for most of the second half.
Then, Miami opened a seven point lead with eight minutes to play and led 91-85 with three minutes remaining when it all fell apart.
Portland scored 13 of the next 14 points as the Heat misfired on their final nine attempts. Miami shot 32 percent from the field in the fourth quarter while Portland made 50 percent of their shots.
Oct. 28, 2016: Charlotte 97, Miami 91.
The Heat entered their home opener off a solid season-opening win in Orlando that was spurred by their defense.
And Miami carried that over by taking an 11-point lead at the half and stretching it to 19 points on a Hassan Whiteside jumper 2:20 into the second half. The Hornets then went on a 12-0 run and continued to chip away at the deficit.
Miami’s lead was down to four points by the end of the quarter and the Hornets took their first lead with nine minutes to play.
Charlotte kept coming and stretched at lead to 10 with 2:40 to play, a 29-point swing in 11 ½ minutes.
Miami’s downfall? The Heat shot 23.7 percent (9 of 38) in the final 21 minutes.
Feb. 27, 2017: Dallas 96, Miami 89
Another fourth quarter meltdown and another damaging loss.
This loss, though, came in the middle of Miami’s second half run. The Heat entered the game at Dallas having won 16-of-18 and were slowly climbing back into the playoff race.
And Miami looked as though it was going to make it 17 of 19 when it raced to an early 14 point advantage and was in complete control.
But this was a game of swings and while Dallas rebounded to lead by nine entering the fourth quarter it was then Miami’s turn. The Heat went on a 15-4 run midway through the fourth quarter to take an 89-84 lead on a 3-pointer by Dragic with 4:39 to play.
Again, the Heat hit a wall late in a game and went scoreless the rest of the way, finishing their final nine possessions by going 0-for-7 from the floor with two turnovers.