For the time being, Chicago holds the tiebreaker, but they'll need a win on the final night of the regular season in order to officially punch their ticket to the postseason. But no matter what happens, for an organization with three championships, the 2016-17 Heat will go down as one of the more impressive teams in franchise history. The Heat were 27-19 with him, 14-22 without him this season.
Brooklyn sat six players for its finale in Chicago, a decision that raised some eyebrows in Miami - since the Heat needed a win by either the Nets or Atlanta (in Indiana) to have a shot at reaching the postseason.
The Miami Heat (40-41) host the Washington Wizards (49-32) at the AmericanAirlines Arena in the final game of the season with everything on the line. Miami was 11-30 in the first half of the season, then 30-11 in the second half of the season.
After 14 seasons in the league, Wade has seen enough basketball to know that it's going to be hard for the Bulls to pull off a first-round upset - but not impossible.
"Through the good times and the bad times, this group never forgot to have fun", Heat captain Udonis Haslem said.
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So now the matchups are set. Boston closed out the regular season with a 112-94 win over the Bucks at TD Garden, but that result really didn't matter because the Cavs (51-31) had conceded the No. 1 seed to Boston.
Believe it or not, but the No. 5 seed Atlanta Hawks have a winning record this season against each of the top three seeds in the Eastern Conference: the Celtics, Cavaliers and Raptors. The first game of the series is scheduled for Sunday evening in Boston.
The Heat have home games with Cleveland (who won't be playing its studs) and Washington.
Only two of the eight first-round matchups were undecided going into Wednesday.
The 1-8 and 2-7 matchups in the East can not be finalized until Wednesday (Thursday in Manila).
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"We all did our job to get us into the playoffs", said Jimmy Butler, who scored a game-high 25 points against the Nets.
There will be final-night intrigue in the National Basketball Association. The Hawks, locked into a first round series with the Wizards, sat five players including All-Star Paul Millsap. Not that IN will be a favorite IN any series this postseason, but assuming the Cavaliers hold on to first place, IN is better off facing the Celtics than the Cavaliers by any sane logic.
Conference winners the Golden State Warriors beat the Los Angeles Lakers 109-94 and the New Orleans Pelicans were 103-100 winners at the Portland Trail Blazers.
It took all 82 games of the regular season, but Wade and his hometown team finally got their wish. The Pacers and the Grizzlies would also not make the cut. Eerie similarities: Both those Blazers and this Heat team finished 41-41, and both had Josh McRoberts on the roster.
Detroit, Miami, Charlotte and Dallas made the playoffs last season, and didn't qualify this season. The Bulls won and kept the Heat from making the playoffs. "You always want to play your best when the lights are the brightest".
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