Barry Jackson

Heat has new concern in playoff battle; Heat, UM notes

Miami Heat forward James Johnson drives against New Orleans Pelicans forward Dante Cunningham (33) guard Jrue Holiday (11) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Wed., March 15, 2017.
Miami Heat forward James Johnson drives against New Orleans Pelicans forward Dante Cunningham (33) guard Jrue Holiday (11) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Wed., March 15, 2017. dsantiago@elnuevoherald.com

A six-pack of Heat and UM basketball items:

• Indiana and Chicago are no longer the Heat’s only concerns in securing a playoff spot. Charlotte (36-41) is only one game behind the No. 8 Heat and No. 9 Indiana, who are both 37-40.

And the Hornets can clinch the tiebreaker with Miami by winning Wednesday’s game in North Carolina, because Charlotte has won two of the first three meetings between the teams.

Even if the Heat wins Wednesday to go two up on Charlotte in the standings, the Hornets still would win a two-team tiebreaker with Miami by virtue of a better division record.

Remaining schedules for each team:

• Heat: At Charlotte, at Toronto, at Washington, Cleveland and Washington.

• Charlotte: At Wizards, Heat, Celtics, at Bucks and at Hawks.

• Indiana: Toronto, Milwaukee, at Orlando, at Philadephia and Atlanta

Chicago, which has an easy remaining schedule, is now a game ahead of Miami and Indiana and owns the tiebreaker with the Heat.

Detroit (35-42) is two games behind Miami.

• The Heat is now 27-19 with Dion Waiters and 10-21 without him and it’s still undetermined if he will be able to play again before the regular season ends because of his ankle injury.

The Heat’s 58.9 winning percentage with Waiters would be fifth in the Eastern Conference. Their 32.3 winning percentage without him would be 13th.

• Heat forward James Johnson– whose assists have jumped 67 last season in Toronto to 248 with Miami because Erik Spoelstra is the first NBA coach to allow him to set up the offense - said "every single opponent says, ‘you’re running the [point guard duties] now" and are surprised he’s capable of this.

Opposing players "knew I had handles but didn’t know I could [set up] the offense," he said.

Clippers coach "Doc Rivers said I’m having an incredible years and happy for me. I already have a Hall of Fame coach, and it’s nice to hear that from an opposing Hall of Fame coach."

• Some UM basketball people believe they’re talented enough to be a top 10 team next season.

• UM has two scholarships and will look for at least one grad transfer.

• UM believes Dewan Huell, who has put on 20 pounds since arriving last year and needs to add 10 more, will be a lot more effective getting feeds (including alley-oops) from incoming four-star prospect Chris Lykes, who’s a much more natural point guard that Ja’Quan Newton.

 
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