The Elias Sports Bureau on Sunday identified a new way for the Heat to make the playoffs that would not require a loss by Indiana or Chicago.
According to Elias, even if the Pacers and Bulls win their last two games, the Heat (39-41) also could make the playoffs if it wins its remaining two games and Milwaukee loses its remaining two games.
Here’s why: If No. 9 Miami and No. 8 Chicago win out and the No. 6 Bucks lose out, all three teams would finish 41-41. The Bucks already have clinched a playoff spot.
But in the head to head matchup among all three teams, Miami had the best record (4-3), with Milwaukee 4-4 and Chicago 3-4.
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Per an email from Elias, even though the Bucks already have clinched a playoff berth, that three-team tiebreaker would still be used to resolve a Bucks/Heat/Bulls tie, instead of a two-team Heat/Bulls tiebreaker that would favor Chicago by virtue of its 2-1 season series win against the Heat. As a result, Miami and Milwaukee would be the playoff teams in that scenario.
Milwaukee hosts Charlotte on Monday and finishes at Boston on Wednesday.
The Pacers, who are seventh at 40-40, play at the 76ers on Monday and finish home against Atlanta on Wednesday.
The Bulls play host to the Magic on Monday and the Nets on Wednesday.
Besides the scenario of two wins and two Bucks losses, the Heat also could make the playoffs with:
• two wins and one loss by Chicago or Indiana
• one win and two losses by Chicago or Indiana
Atlanta has clinched a playoff spot, and its victory on Sunday ensured that the Heat can finish no higher than sixth.
Here’s our earlier post with news on Dion Waiters and what the Washington Wizards had to say about Miami.