Three things to watch this week: Heat begin important homestand just one game out of playoffs

The Miami Heat’s Dion Waiters (11) directs traffic against the Charlotte Hornets in the fourth quarter at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Wednesday, March 8, 2017. The Heat won, 108-101. (Pedro Portal/El Nuevo Herald/TNS)

The Heat begin the week just one game out of the playoffs.

With 15 games to go, Miami (32-35) begins a critical five-game homestand this week. A winning homestand could mean moving into a playoff spot, a losing homestand could push the Heat out of the playoff race.

Here are three things to watch this week …

Important stretch: With nine of their remaining 15 regular-season games coming at home, the Heat have an advantage over most of the teams they’re competing with in the playoff race. Most of those home games will come within the next few weeks. Miami begins an important five-game homestand Wednesday, with four of the five opponents carrying losing records (Pelicans, Timberwolves, Trail Blazers and Suns). Toronto, which the Heat defeated 104-89 on Saturday, is the only winning team Miami will face during the homestand. The Heat must take advantage of this favorable stretch and continue their winning ways to remain in the playoff race. Considering that Miami is 13-1 over its past 14 games at AmericanAirlines Arena, things look pretty good for the Heat this week.

When will Goran return?: Goran Dragic missed Sunday’s loss to the Pacers with a right orbital contusion he suffered Saturday. The Heat are hopeful Dragic won’t have to miss any more time, as the Heat now have two days off before hosting the Pelicans on Wednesday. But Dragic’s right eye looked bad as he sat in front of his locker in Indianapolis on Sunday afternoon. The eye was almost swollen shut and Dragic admitted he can barely see. One thing is for sure, Miami wants Dragic back as soon as possible. The Heat are 1-8 when Dragic is unable to play this season.

Chris Bosh watch: Another week of Chris Bosh watch. The Heat have not released Bosh yet, as they are still carrying him on their 15-man roster. Even though the Heat became eligible to apply for salary-cap relief from Bosh’s contract on Feb. 9, the expectation was that the organization would wait until after March 1 to release him. Well, it’s now March 13 and Bosh is still on the team. The Heat don’t seem to be in a rush to begin that process unless they need his roster spot to make a move. Obviously, Miami wants to apply for salary-cap relief from Bosh’s contract before free agency this upcoming summer. But there are a few months between now and then.

[Five takeaways: Heat have overcome a lot, but can’t overcome grueling back-to-back in loss to Pacers]

[Goran Dragic out vs. Pacers on Sunday as eye swells ‘mostly shut’]

[Are the Miami Heat turning into the Houston Rockets?]

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