Is head-to-head tiebreaker with Bulls that kept Heat out of the playoffs unfair?

MIAMI — The Heat were so close to making the playoffs. How close?

Replace one of the Heat’s two losses against the Bulls with a win and the Heat would be playing in the first round of the playoffs right now. Miami missed the postseason by one game, as Chicago took the Eastern Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot despite having the same 41-41 record because of the head-to-head tiebreaker.

A head-to-head tiebreaker that Heat president Pat Riley believes is “ridiculous.” The Bulls and Dwyane Wade won the season series 2-1 over the Heat to clinch the playoff spot, but two of the three games were played in Chicago and just one was played in Miami.

Chicago Bulls’ Dwyane Wade (3) is fouled by Miami Heat’s Justise Winslow as he drives to the basket during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

“We should have had two games in Miami against Chicago,” Riley said Wednesday in his season-ending press conference. “That’s ridiculous. It should have been a 2-2 tiebreaker. So make that point. If we played two here, maybe we’d be in the playoffs.”

Riley does have a point, a head-to-head tiebreaker that includes two games in Chicago and just one game in Miami seems unfair to the Heat.

But it’s important to note the Heat did lose their only home game against the Bulls this season 98-95 on Nov. 10. However, it’s also important to note that both losses against the Bulls came within the first 24 games when Miami was struggling on its way to an 11-30 record over the first half of the season.

Now, eighth-seeded Chicago is leading its first-round series against top-seeded Boston 2-0. And the Heat’s season is over.

“We were so different in that second half,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “If we were able to play Chicago at any point later in the season rather than those first two times, maybe we would have had the tiebreaker there.”

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