Playoff update: Philadelphia now controls its destiny as No. 3 seed, possible first-round Heat opponent

New York Knicks’ Kyle O’Quinn celebrates after making a 3-point basket as Miami Heat’s Bam Adebayo reacts during the Knicks’ easy win Friday in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

NEW YORK – The Miami Heat looked like anything but a playoff team Friday against the Knicks but they still return home for the final two games of the season in control of the No. 6 seed in the East.

The Heat (43-37) remain one-half game ahead of the Bucks (42-37) and one game in front of the Wizards (42-38), who squandered a great opportunity to close that gap by losing at home to the Hawks.

Miami – routed by the Knicks, 122-98, a game in which coach Erik Spoelstra said several times his team was a “no-show” – owns all tiebreakers over Milwaukee and Washington. The Heat end the season with home games against Oklahoma City on Monday and Toronto on Wednesday. Milwaukee plays at New York tonight, hosts Orlando and faces Philadelphia on the road. Washington faces Boston and travels to Orlando.

Although Miami owns the tiebreaker, if it loses both games it can be passed by both teams. Washington would have to win its final two games and the Bucks would have to win 2 of 3. If the Heat win one of their final two, the Wizards cannot catch them and the Bucks wold have to go 3-0 to pass them.

More important was what happened in the top half of the bracket on Friday. Philadelphia overtook Cleveland for the third spot with a 132-130 home win that came down to LeBron James needing to make three free throws to tie with 1.9 second remaining and missing the second. He then missed the third intentionally and time ran out.

Philadelphia, which has won 13 in a row, now controls its destiny for the third seed with games remaining against Dallas at home, at Atlanta and home to Milwaukee. Win all three and the Sixers finish No. 3 and would face the Heat, if Miami hangs onto No. 6. Prior to the game the buzz was about a possible first-matchup between LeBron and Dwyane Wade.

But one slip up by Philadelphia and two wins by Cleveland, which ends the season with a home-and-home against the Knicks, and Cleveland would claim the third seed by virtue of the conference record tiebreaker.

The top two seeds in the East are set. Toronto clinched the best record Friday with its victory over Indiana and Boston is locked into the No. 2 seed.

All of which means with the possibility that the Heat still could finish anywhere from sixth to eighth, four opponents remain at play for Miami in the first round: Toronto, Boston, Philadelphia and Cleveland.

[Heat mailbag: Is it dangerous for teams to jockey to face Boston in first round? Heat avenues to improve this summer]

[Health, not seeding, is most important for Heat entering playoffs, no matter the opponent]

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