With the NBA planning to restart the season at the end of July, the schedules were finally released for the remaining eight games of playoff seeding. The Miami Heat sit in fourth place in the East right now. They are just two and a half games behind the Boston Celtics for the third seed. However, they only have a two-game lead on both the Indiana Pacers and Philadelphia 76ers.
These eight games will be extremely important for Miami. Are the Heat in trouble when the season resumes? Let’s look into their schedule as they have the hardest remaining strength of schedule according to analytics.
The two most likely opponents for the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs would be the Pacers or Sixers. As of now, it seems very unlikely the team could jump all the way to the second seed. Luckily, maintaining a home court advantage isn’t as important anymore since all games will be held in Orlando, a neutral site without fans.
Nevertheless, Miami does play some of the best teams in the NBA during this eight-game stretch of ball. This features matchups with the Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors, and Denver Nuggets.
I don’t believe this current Miami unit got the proper time to gel, as they were thrown into the fire very shorthanded. It will be interesting to see how coach Erik Spoelstra uses his lineups. He’s toyed with several different ones throughout the season. I do expect Jimmy Butler to take a more aggressive approach in the playoffs, similar to what he did with the 76ers. Hopefully, his three-point shot has improved during this time of rest because it was terrible leading up to the pause of the NBA season.
I think the most interesting thing to monitor is the two remaining games with the Indiana Pacers. Tensions ran high between the two teams earlier in the season when Jimmy Butler and T.J. Warren got into an altercation in Indiana. The possibility of playing Indiana twice during the restart and in a seven-game first-round series could be interesting. This could pose quite an intense matchup.
In addition, it will be nice to see Miami finally have their full rotation available. Since making the trade that landed Andre Iguodala and Jae Crowder, the Heat haven’t had their full roster available. Add Meyers Leonard and Tyler Herro into the mix, and suddenly the Heat have one of the deepest rotations coming into the restart.
Unfortunately, news broke this week of Derrick Jones Jr testing positive for COVID-19. However, he should hopefully be good to go by the time Miami plays their first game on August 1st against the Denver Nuggets.
I don’t believe the Heat are in trouble when the season resumes. Though this team was very beaten up going into the last weeks before the pause, the time to heal should help. This is a team that could give anyone a hard time hopefully deep into the playoffs.
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