Mailbag: How many wins will it take for Miami to make playoffs? Has Waiters played last game for Heat?

Miami’s Tyler Johnson goes up for a dunk in the Heat win over Phoenix on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

MIAMI – The season is winding down and the focus now is on the Heat’s playoff push.

But the Heat have other issues and we’re here to answer any questions about them all in the latest installment of our mailbag.

If you weren’t able to submit a question this week, send them in for future mailbags via Twitter to @Anthony_Chiang and @tomdangelo44.

From @ChrisHypeTrain: how many wins do Heat need to make playoffs?

Miami is 35-36 after Tuesday’s victory over the Suns and sit in the eighth and final playoff spot. Five teams are within 3.5 games for the final three spots with the Pacers sixth, 1.5 games ahead of Miami.

The guess is the No. 8 seed will finish with 41 or 42 wins, meaning the Heat have to get to at least .500. To finish with 41 wins Miami would have to go 6-5 the rest of the way, 41 wins would require a 7-4 record.

To take it further, in case of a tie, Miami owns the tie breaker against the Bucks and the Pacers. The Bulls have the tie-breaker against the Heat. Miami has lost 2-of-3 to the struggling Pistons with one game remaining, Tuesday in Detroit.

From Olivia of West Palm Beach: Has Dion Waiters played his last game for the Heat?

That’s a great question and one that is tough to answer for two reasons. Waiters’ sprained ankle is severe and it’s not a sure thing he returns by the end of the regular season. And if the Heat do not make the playoffs that means his season could be over.

And if he does not come back this season I put it at 50-50 he returns next year. Waiters has had a solid second half and he is ready to cash in this summer, when he will become a free agent. The Heat will be in the market for scoring wing, whether it’s a shooting guard or a small forward. Waiters will get a big offer, maybe $16 to $20 million a year for four years and it will come down to how much the Heat believe Waiters is worth. We know they were pleased with his progress and are very happy with his work ethic and how he bought into the team concept.

But what we do not know is if they think he can help them win a championship and if they do how much they would be willing to pay for that.

[Five takeaways: Miami Heat move back into playoff spot with win over Phoenix Suns]

[Heat center Hassan Whiteside receives 13 stitches after cutting right hand late in win over Suns]

[Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra on resting players: ‘We’re not really wired that way’]

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