MILWAUKEE – The Miami Heat have won 14-of-19 games to climb to No. 4 in the Eastern Conference and into the thick of the playoff race.
But just how comfortable should Heat fans be with the prospects of their team playing into late April and possibly early May?
That depends on who you are listening to.
Coach Erik Spoelstra’s team appears to be receiving a lot of love from some when it comes to their playoff chances and not so much from others. Depending on which website you believe, Miami either is a strong contender for a top four seed or will be at the bottom of the Eastern Conference playoff bracket.
FiveThirtyEight likes Miami much more than ESPN. FiveThirtyEight has the Heat’s chances of making the playoffs at 88 percent, which is fourth best in the East behind Toronto (99 percent), Boston (99) and Cleveland (98). Below the Heat are Milwaukee (76), Indiana (73), Detroit (73) and Philadelphia (73).
ESPN, though, is not so confident giving Miami the eight best odds in the East with a 74.5 percent chance of making the playoffs and quite a distance behind No. 7 Milwaukee at 82.3 percent. They have Toronto and Boston at 99.9 percent, following by Cleveland (98.9), Washington (96.6), Detroit (87.5), Philadelphia (86.2), Milwaukee and Miami.
ESPN projects the Heat to finish 43-39, which means they believe the Heat, who are 25-18 entering Wednesday’s game at the Bucks, will finish the season 18-21. The Heat had a seven-game winning streak snapped Monday in Chicago.
For the Heat, the playoffs have been on their minds for awhile now.
“We’re trying to get into the playoffs,” Tyler Johnson said in late December. “We’re playing for playoff position right now. Even though some people will call it early, we’re trying to put ourselves in a position where we don’t have to look back, we won’t have to scrape and claw at the very end like we’ve had to in years past.”
The Heat buried themselves such a deep hole a year ago, going 11-30 in the first half of the season, that even a stunning 30-11 turnaround could not get them into the postseason as Miami lost out on a tiebreaker for the final spot in the East.