Miami Heat’s playoff hopes hanging in balance after 117-109 defeat to Toronto Raptors
The Miami Heat moved closer to elimination from the playoffs for the second time in three seasons after a 117-109 defeat to the Toronto Raptors on Sunday.
Miami entered the game with their future still in their own hands. However, they knew that victories in their final three regular season fixtures would carry them into the post-season.
But an agonizing loss that saw the Heat lose a 13-point first-half lead means they are now relying on results from other teams to have any opportunity of progressing.
Their most recent loss left the Heat with 38 wins and 42 defeats as they sit in 10th place of the Eastern Conference. Meaning they are 1.5 games behind the Detroit Pistons for the eighth and final quarterfinals berth.
The Heat had the ball in the front-court with the scoreboard tied at 103-103 with only ten seconds left in the fourth quarter. However, official Eric Lewis blew the whistle. The Heat players then started running into their positions. But Dion Waiters hadn’t yet been given the ball.
The Heat were confused and ended up with a broken play on the buzzer. James Johnson then missed a jump shot. Before, Bam Adebayo grabbed the rebound and made a layup. However, it came after the buzzer and didn’t stand.
Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said the reasoning he received from the officials for the early whistle included “nothing coherent and made no sense.”
Spoelstra was as confused as frustrated. Speaking to reporters after the game, he said: “You blow the whistle when you hand the ball to somebody when they’re out of bounds. Not before,” Spoelstra said. “That got us moving, into motion, before that. It was just sideways from there.
“It’s very disappointing that that play was allowed to continue,” he said. “From our vantage point, that was a botched play. You just set it again. That happens a million times during the course of an NBA season.”
Toronto, who is second in the East with a 57-24 record, was carried to victory after big points contributions from Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam.
Leonard scored 22 points, while Siakam recorded 23 points.
Danny Green’s intervention in overtime proved decisive. With the Toronto man scoring seven of his team’s 14 points to set up their win.
Powell has been battling for a crucial role for the Raptors in the playoffs. He had an 11-point burst in the second quarter. Speaking to reporters, Nurse was pleased. He said: “That’s part of the battle in a big game: Are you really hunting them down. Are you really ready to pull the trigger when they come to you? He’s okay there.
“Now and then he’ll break free and get a cut and go down the lane for a big slam dunk or something. He can make big plays in big games.”
Miami icon Dwayne Wade, who could grace an NBA court for the final time when their regular season draws to a close on Wednesday, finished with 21 points.
The three-time NBA champion was left frustrated when he missed a basket in the last seconds of regulation time. The basket would have given Miami a crucial win.
Toronto didn’t get any points from bench players in the first quarter while the Raptors finished with a 32-9 record at home and have scored at least 110 points in their last eight fixtures.
The Raptors close the regular season against Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday.