The Miami Heat did all it could to not win Wednesday night, in order to secure that top-10 pick. But they were ill prepared for the juggernaut of losery that are the Philadelphia 76ers. Any time the Heat tried to suck the joint up, the 6ers took it up a notch, and showed why they’re the ’96 Bulls of sucking.
So the Heat won 105-101. And that would be bad except, the Brooklyn Nets also won — defeating the Orlando Magic — which means the Heat fell below them in the standings thus securing that top-10 lottery pick.
Of course, things can still go south. According to the odds, the Heat now have a 91-percent chance of keeping the top-10 pick. Meaning that there’s a nine percent chance another team could leap-frog them when the lottery is held.
How these numbers are calculated is beyond us. Seems capricious and arbitrary. But, it’s better than the alternative, which would have been having to a rely on a coin flip to decide the Heat’s lottery fate.
It’s been an exhausting season.
But what was supposed to be a ridiculously bad game turned out to be wildly fun and entertaining. While the Heat tried to crap the bed as much as possible, they were also scoreboard-watching, keeping an eye on that Nets game. But as soon as Brooklyn started to pull away from the Magic, the Heat began to relax and just play.
Erick Spolestra admitted as much in his post-game press conference afterward, saying he began to not stress when he saw the Nets had won.
“I didn’t have to stress out and kill myself over the result," he told reporters. He then added, “It’s the worst place to be in as a coach and competitor.”
Still, Spo did everything he could to try to get the Heat to fall short, without ruining the integrity of the game. He sat his starters, and gave major minutes to guys like Zoran Dragic and Bill Walker.
Spo’s strategy: to play his guys as much as possible so that they’d run out of gas by the end of the game. And it almost worked!
The Heat at one point built a 20-point lead, only to watch it disintegrate in the second half.
But the 76ers were profoundly inept. They too needed to lose this game to try and snatch that too-10 pick from the Heat. And they weren’t hiding their intentions either. At one point, they actually had a player run the huddle and coach for a while. It was comically terrible, while also signaling the fact that the Heat never had a chance when it came to losing a game on purpose. Not against this Philly team.
Yet once the Nets won their game, the Heat were able to play their game without worrying. And while the ultimate result was meaningless, the game gave us great moments — like Zoran’s sweeping layup being celebrated by his proud big brother Goran Dragic on the sidelines.
And Walker’s final three pointer of the night ending up in a brief Antoine Walker-shimmy homage.
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Always fun, this team. Even when they’re terrible.
So here’s where the Heat stand in terms of their pick: At number 10, they have a 1.1 percent chance at landing the number one overall pick, according to the NBA lottery odds. They have a 1.3 percent shot at getting the second overall pick, and a 1.6 at number three. After that things are determined by record. Meaning at worst, the Heat will have the tenth overall pick in the draft, according to the odds.
What Pat Riley does with it will be fun to watch.