Miami Heat

There’s a lot at stake for the Heat as the NBA regular season comes to a close

Miami Heat guard Tyler Johnson drives during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Monday, April 9, 2018.
Miami Heat guard Tyler Johnson drives during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Monday, April 9, 2018. dsantiago@miamiherald.com

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

The Heat’s many, many playoff possibilities

It all comes down to this.

When the Miami Heat takes the court at AmericanAirlines Arena for its regular-season finale against the Toronto Raptors, it will hold the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference. By game’s end, the Heat could be either No. 6, 7 or 8 depending on the results of Miami’s game as well as those of the Milwaukee Bucks-Philadelphia 76ers and the Washington Wizards-Orlando Magic.

The Heat’s potential opponents in the first round of the playoffs: No. 1 Toronto (if the Heat falls to the No. 8 seed), No. 2 Boston (if it stays at the No. 7 seed) or No. 3 Philadelphia (it if rises to the No. 6 seed). A full breakdown of the scenarios can be found here.

But regardless of the result Wednesday night and regardless of the opponent come this weekend, the Heat is happy to know that it will live to see at least one more series of basketball. It didn’t have that luxury last year, after mounting a ferocious comeback in the second half of the year only to miss out on the playoffs because of a tiebreaker.

The Heat tips off at 8 p.m.

Bour’s bat not enough

First baseman Justin Bour belted the ball into the stands at Marlins Park not once, but twice against the Mets on Tuesday, giving the Marlins a rare dose of pop at the plate that they haven’t seen early in this young season.

It still wasn’t enough.

After Bour’s homers gave the Marlins a lead, the bullpen gave it right back. The final dagger: Yeonis Cespedes’ go-ahead two-run double in the ninth to give the Mets an 8-6 win over the Marlins. Miami now drops to 3-8.

The Marlins close out the series against the Mets at 7:10 p.m. Wednesday and will hope to avoid being swept.

Dolphins draft buzz

When the Miami Dolphins are on the clock for the first time in the 2018 NFL Draft with the 11th overall pick (or whatever pick they have if they decide to make a trade), they could go in a multitude of directions on April 26.

If they go defense (which roster needs dictate they should), which position will they prioritize? Do they take a linebacker if Georgia’s Roquan Smith or Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds is available? What about Washington’s Vita Vea to help replace the lost production from Ndamukong Suh? Or Florida State’s Derwin James to help with pass protection against tight ends?

Or, will they pull the trigger and make a move for Baker Mayfield or another of this year’s top quarterbacks, either by trading up or hoping he falls to them?

So many questions, and time to answer them is starting to run out. The draft begins in a little more than two weeks.

Panthers postscript

Yes, the Florida Panthers fell short of the playoffs — one point short to be exact — but after a second-half run that included 25 wins, Panthers general manager Dave Tallon is optimistic about the franchise’s future.

“I like the depth of our team,” Tallon told reporters Tuesday as players cleaned out their lockers at BB&T Center. “I like the depth of our organization. I am especially excited about our future and the players we have coming in the system. We are going to have a great young core, and this team is going to be a dynamite team for a long time to come. We’re in good shape.”

What happens in the next year for coach Bob Boughner and his team will determine a lot about the state of the franchise.

The team has a solid young core helmed by players such as All-Star Aleksander Barkov and Vincent Trocheck. Goalkeeper Roberto Luongo is coming back for a 19th season. Keith Yandle and Aaron Ekblad anchor the defensemen.

There’s promise and there’s potential for a playoff run if the team can sustain that end-of-the-season success heading into next year.

More news and notes

▪ With the Hurricanes’ spring game fast approaching, an update on how quarterback N’Kosi Perry is faring.

▪ University of Miami great Ed Reed watched the Hurricanes’ scrimmage last weekend. Here’s what he liked.

▪ Did Derek Jeter move the Marlins out of town under our noses — and did anyone even notice?

▪ For this Marlins rookie, finding his hitting stride will come down to timing.

▪ If the Heat does indeed face the Celtics in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, here’s why they’ll see a new Kelly Olynyk.

▪ UM men’s basketball coach Jim Larrañaga won’t be leaving anytime soon.

▪ Former Dolphin Richie Incognito announced his retirement from the NFL

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