The Miami Heat are on the verge of playoff elimination, but they can still get in with a little help. First, they have to beat the Orlando Magic Monday night. Will Dwyane Wade play? The NBA odds need to know.
Jason’s record as of Apr. 12: 69-68-5 ATS, 8-13 Totals, plus-0.15 units ML
It ain’t over yet, folks. True, the Miami Heat are two games out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with just two games remaining in the regular season. And true, the Heat have lost six of their last seven games at 0-7 ATS to put them in this pickle. However, the Heat do hold the tiebreaker over the team they’re chasing down, the Brooklyn Nets. This battle could easily go down to the wire.
First and foremost, the Heat need a win Monday night (7:30 p.m. ET) against their in-state rivals, the Orlando Magic. The NBA odds for this matchup are on hold as we go to press; technically, Dwyane Wade is iffy with hip and knee issues, but if he can lace up his sneakers Monday, he figures to play. Same with Hassan Whiteside (hand) and Henry Walker (elbow). Will it be enough to extend Miami’s season?
It turns out we were right about the Heat (35-45 SU, 33-43-4 ATS) not reaching their regular-season win total of 44 this year. They were indeed a lot closer to Kevin Pelton’s SCHOENE projection of 34 wins. But it hasn’t gone down quite the way anyone envisioned. Miami’s season will be remembered for three things: the season-ending injury to Chris Bosh (19.8 PER), the emergence of Whiteside (26.1 PER), and the deadline deal that brought Goran Dragic (19.0 PER) to South Beach.
This team could do some serious damage next year when everyone comes back. Taking care of the Magic (25-55 SU, 41-38-1 ATS) shouldn’t be a problem, either, but just about everything has been a problem for Miami this month. Saturday’s 107-104 loss to the Toronto Raptors (+3.5 away) left the players disconsolate and thinking about what could have been this year, had everyone been healthy. The Heat will obviously have to refocus and put all their energies into beating Orlando instead.
It’s an Illuuuuusion
But how seriously will the Magic take this game? From a tanking standpoint, Orlando could still overtake the Sacramento Kings for the sixth-worst record in the league, which would narrow their chances in the draft lottery somewhat. The Magic looked like they were stuck in neutral Saturday night when they lost 80-79 to the worst team in the league, the New York Knicks (+11 away). The two teams combined for 15 points in the second quarter, a record-low since the introduction of the shot clock 60 years ago.
As awful as that was, Orlando did rally to take the lead late in the fourth before giving up the ghost, so let’s not accuse them of not giving it the ol’ college try just yet. The Magic are 3-2 SU and 4-1 ATS in their last five games, and if they really do need to circle the tanks, they can do it in their season finale in Brooklyn, rather than waste the opportunity to play the spoiler role against the Heat.
Throwing all that playoff/non-playoff jazz out the window, Orlando has a 1-2 SU and 2-1 ATS “edge” over the Heat in their season series, with the away team winning each game for some reason. But things could easily have gone the other way; Miami beat the Magic in their last encounter, 93-90 in overtime, with Orlando bagging the cash as a 3.5-point home dog.
Nikola Vucevic (21.6 PER) seems to enjoy facing the Heat in particular. Even after Whiteside joined the party, Vucevic scored 29 points in each of his last two games against Miami. He’s been Orlando’s best player this year, consistent from start to finish, and Vucevic would have merited All-Star consideration had the Magic not been so bad otherwise. One more statement game against Miami should give Orlando fans something to look forward to next season.
NBA Pick: Take the Magic with your NBA picks.