At press time, the Miami Heathad already clinched a playoff spot, although they were scrambling to hold the number-two place in the Eastern Conference. Their ranking determines who they will face when the playoffs begin on April 22. Forward Udonis Haslem was confident regardless of the opponent. He told the Sun-Sentinel, Teams probably look at us and say, `We don't want to play them in the first round. For us, if we're on top of our game, it doesn't matter who we are playing."
Remaining on top of their game was going to be tough, with both center Shaquille ONeill and point guard Jason Williams having suffered knee injuries and sitting out games this month. In early April, the Heat lost three in a row for the first time since December. Still, todays game against the Chicago Bulls is just gravy on the cake for the Heat. Not so for the Bulls, who were nipping at the heels of the Philadelphia 76ers to land the eighth and last playoff spot. Todays game tips off at 1 p.m. at American Airlines Arena (601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami). Call 1-800-4NBA-TIX, or visit www.heat.com.
Sun., April 16