Heat mailbag: Is it dangerous for teams to jockey to face Boston in first round of playoffs?

Miami Heat forward Kelly Olynyk is congratulated by teammate Wayne Ellington after his second quarter score during the Heat victory over Cleveland on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Joe Skipper)

Time for another Miami Heat mailbag.

If you were not able to ask a question this time, send them along for future mailbags via Twitter to @tomdangelo44 and @Anthony_Chiang. You can also e-mail me at tdangelo@pbpost.com.

From @ChrisHypeTrain: Should teams try to position themselves to play a certain team in the playoffs?

This comes under the ‘be careful what you wish for’ category. But I am assuming you are referring to the Heat and if they should try to finish seventh and set up a first-round series with the Celtics. Miami currently holds the seventh spot, one half game ahead of No. 8 Milwaukee, after defeating Cleveland on Tuesday while the Bucks fell at the Clippers.

Everyone wants to play the Celtics in the first round since it was announced Kyrie Irving could miss three to six weeks after having knee surgery last week. This comes after injuries to Marcus Smart (thumb) and Daniel Theis (knee) and suddenly the Celtics appear vulnerable. Smart will miss at least the rest of the regular season and likely the early rounds of the playoffs and Theis is out for the year.

Boston pretty much is locked into the No. 2 seed being 3.5 games behind No. 1 Toronto and seven games ahead of No. 3 Cleveland. But this becomes a dangerous game and Goran Dragic told Anthony Chiang why last week.

“It’s tricky,” Dragic said. “I always think karma can get you back, especially in the playoffs. We just need to continue to do our jobs and try to win games, and then in the end we’ll see who we’re going to get. But yeah, now with all these injuries everybody wants to have Boston. But you never know, maybe [Irving] is going to come back earlier.”

In the end, no, I do believe any team will intentionally lose a game to try to fall to seventh spot – Milwaukee and Miami appear to be the most likely two to wind up there but Washington has been trending down and could drop to No. 7. As for the Heat, that has never been their style and I highly doubt they would try to fall back if they were in the sixth spot or not try to win every game if they were No. 7.

From Joseph, Pompano Beach: With Whiteside missing so many games this year and especially lately, how much to the Heat really miss him?

Miami’s play of late – with the exception of close losses at Oklahoma City and Indiana – suggests not very much. Miami has won four of its last six and are 5-4 since Hassan Whiteside went down with a strained left hip flexor. The Heat have survived OK without Whiteside this season. In fact, they are 14-14 in the 28 games Whiteside has not played (18 of those due to two separate bone bruises on his left knee). But as much as Whiteside right now seems to be the forgotten man and many believe the Heat will be fine without him, I still believe the Heat will be better off having that 7-foot, shot-blocking, defensive anchor in the middle come playoff time when the game slows down and becomes more of a half-court game, especially in the East.

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