Sports

How the Miami Heat can clear up its playoff picture in its final two games

Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (7) goes up for a shot in front of Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams (12) and forward Carmelo Anthony (7) during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Friday, March 23, 2018.
Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (7) goes up for a shot in front of Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams (12) and forward Carmelo Anthony (7) during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Friday, March 23, 2018. AP

Welcome to Bulletin Board, the Miami Herald’s weekday roundup covering everything in the South Florida sports scene. A lot to recap from the weekend. Let’s get right to it.

Heat looking to shore up playoff seeding

With two games left in the regular season, the only thing guaranteed for the Miami Heat is a playoff berth.

What happens after that is still completely up for grabs.

The Heat can theoretically finish anywhere from No. 6 to No. 8 in the standings and could potentially face any of the top four teams in the first round of the NBA playoffs.

That picture would become much clearer, though, if the Heat win against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday. A Heat win means Miami clinches the Southeast Division and gives them only two potential seed lines for the NBA playoffs: 6 or 7. A loss by the Milwaukee Bucks in addition to that Heat win would guarantee Miami the No. 6 seed and a date with either the Cleveland Cavaliers or the Philadelphia 76ers in Round 1.

A loss, however, sends Miami back to Square 1.

Tipoff for that game against OKC is set for 7:30 p.m. from AmericanAirlines Arena. The Heat then closes the season against the Toronto Raptors at 8 p.m.Wednesday.

Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat could face the four-time MVP and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the NBA playoffs, which begin April 14-15. Here is what he said April 6, 2018 as the Heat was preparing to face the New York Knicks.

Panthers playoff hopes dashed

The late push wasn’t enough.

After forcing their way into being contenders for the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Florida Panthers saw their postseason hopes come to an end even before they could get on the ice Saturday for their penultimate game. When the Philadelphia Flyers defeated the New York Rangers 5-0 that Saturday afternoon, their lead over the Panthers became two points too many. The Panthers, even with their two wins over Buffalo and Boston to close out the year, could do nothing.

This despite going 25-10 after the All-Star Break, including closing out the season with five wins in a row.

This despite setting a franchise record with 27 home victories and earning 96 points, the third most in franchise history.

This despite the emergence of All-Star center Aleksander Barkov and the steadiness of veteran goaltender Roberto Luongo late after returning from injury.

Now, the Panthers must sit and watch as 16 teams compete for the Stanley Cup. Maybe next year.

Marlins avoid sweep

The good news? The Marlins avoided being swept in their first road series by taking a 6-3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday. Miguel Rojas hit his first home run of the season, rookie Brian Anderson broke a 3-3 tie with a two-run double in the eighth and Odraisamer Despaigne earned the win as part of a Marlins bullpen that held the Phillies scoreless over the final five innings.

The bad news? The two losses before it were by scores of 5-0 on Thursday and 20-1 on Saturday, the latter of which is the worst loss in Marlins history by run differential. The highlight of that loss: backup catcher Bryan Holaday, who came in as a relief pitcher and tossed a perfect eighth inning.

Miami is now 3-6 this season heading into a three-game home series with the New York Mets.

Hurricanes’ scrimmage star

If you don’t know Miami’s Greg Rousseau’s name yet, you might want to start learning it.

The freshman defensive end, an early enrollee out of Champagnat Catholic, was dominant in the Hurricanes’ first spring scrimmage on Saturday. According to coach Mark Richt, the 6-foot-6, 225-pound newcomer recorded seven tackles (five for loss) and four “sacks” (quarterbacks were not allowed to be tackled).

The offensive line, however, struggled, making for a rough day for the quarterbacks. Richt said Malik Rosier is still the starter for now.

Miami’s next scrimmage will be its spring game on Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium.

More from the South Florida sports scene

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An in-depth look at how the Heat’s young players have fared this year

Heat broadcaster nears last call with 1,100 games worth of fun and funny memories.

University of Florida

The Head Ball Coach Steve Spurrier is rejoining the coaching ranks

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