The Heat’s improbable hopes of making the playoffs evaporated Tuesday night. And the dagger was delivered by the Indiana Pacers, who were bounced from the past three postseasons by the Heat.
The Pacers’ 99-95 double-overtime win against Washington eliminated Miami from playoff contention. To make the playoffs, the Heat would have needed a win in Philadelphia on Wednesday, losses by Indiana on Tuesday and Wednesday, and a loss by Brooklyn against visiting Orlando on Wednesday.
But Wednesday’s game will still be meaningful because it will affect the Heat’s chances of keeping its first-round pick, which will be forwarded to Philadelphia unless it is in the top 10 immediately after the May 19 NBA Draft lottery.
If the Heat loses Wednesday, it will finish alone with the league’s 10th-worst record and would have a 91 percent chance of keeping its lottery pick, including a 4 percent chance of moving into the top three of the draft.
But if the Heat wins and Brooklyn loses to Orlando, then Miami and the Nets would be tied for the 10th-worst record, and a coin flip would determine pre-lottery order, thus jeopardizing the Heat’s chances of staying inside the top 10 and keeping the pick.
So both the Heat and Philadelphia would benefit by losing Wednesday.
The Heat (36-45) will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2007-08 and for only the second time in Dwyane Wade’s 12 seasons.