Heat face Sixers in must-win home finale
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The Miami Heat, who are in a desperate fight to make the playoffs, will close their regular-season home schedule on Tuesday night against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Philadelphia (50-30) has already locked up the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference, but Miami (38-42) has been assured of nothing.
The Heat have lost four straight games and trail the Detroit Pistons (39-41) by one game for the final playoff berth in the East. The Pistons have also lost four games in a row, opening the door for the third team in this fight, the Charlotte Hornets (38-42), who are tied with the Heat but have won three straight games.
With two games left, Miami has control of no tiebreakers. Miami has to win out and hope that Detroit loses both of its games even though the Pistons play the Memphis Grizzlies and New York Knicks - two teams that have a combined record of 48-112.
In addition, Miami would need the red-hot Hornets to drop one of its two games.
"We're going to need some help. The only thing we can control is what we do," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said after a painful 117-109 overtime loss on Sunday at the Toronto Raptors. "We've got to dust this one off, get back to Miami and win the next game."
Because of the odds stacked against the Heat, it is likely that Tuesday's game will become the final home contest in the Hall of Fame career of Miami shooting guard Dwyane Wade, who is retiring at season's end.
Wade, 37, is a 13-time NBA All-Star, a three-time NBA champion and the MVP of the 2006 league finals.
The Heat will honor him before Tuesday's game, although there are no exact details as of yet.
"I know all my family is going to be there," Wade said. "I'm looking forward to closing the chapter."
While there is all that drama regarding the Heat, the 76ers are looking for momentum as they approach the playoffs. They have lost three of their past four games, which means beating Miami would have value for the Sixers as they look toward the postseason.
76ers forward Jimmy Butler has missed three of the past four games due to back tightness. Other than that, the 76ers core is healthy.
Once he gets back, the Sixers - who have won at least 50 games for a second straight season - should be at full throttle.
The 76ers haven't reached the Eastern Conference Finals since 2001 and haven't won the league title since 1983.
"I know how difficult it is," said 76ers coach Brett Brown, who endured some horrific seasons but now has the team pointed in the right direction. "I give our group credit, but the 50-win milestone goes away quickly when the playoffs begin."
The Heat, meanwhile, are just hoping to make it back to the playoffs. After winning two NBA titles during the LeBron James Era (2010-2014), the Heat have won just one playoff round over the past four years. If they fall short of the playoffs this year, it will mark the third such failure in the past five years.
--Field Level Media
Updated April 8, 2019