With only about 15 games remaining in the regular season, the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic are each battling for their playoff lives.
As it stands, the Heat are currently holding on to the eight and final spot with a 31-35 record. The Magic are currently just on the outside looking in, in the ninth slot and one game behind the Heat at 31-37.
While both teams can mathematically still make the playoffs, it’ll likely come down to a battle for that eighth seed. The Brooklyn Nets sit three games ahead of Miami in the seventh slot at 35-33 and have been playing well as of late.
In essence, whoever wins the Southeast Division (Heat lead) will be playing once the playoffs start in late April.
Down the Home Stretch
The Heat are the leaders in the clubhouse as of now thanks to a recent good stretch of play. Miami has won five out of their past seven games, a stretch that includes wins over the Warriors and Nets at home.
The Heat did just get blown out at home by Toronto, but the Raptors have done that to a lot of teams this season and are challenging the Bucks for the top spot in the East.
Miami is going to have to get it done against playoff teams down the stretch though. Out of their remaining 16 games, 10 are against playoff teams in a stretch that includes two games against the Bucks, two against the Celtics, and trips to Oklahoma City, San Antonio and Toronto.
Meanwhile, Orlando is in a little bit of a slump, but have an easier remaining schedule. The Magic have dropped five out of the past eight games, including bad losses to the Eastern Conference’s two worst teams in Cleveland and New York. The good news for them is that they have a chance to make up ground as none of their next five games are against current playoff teams and only six of their remaining 14 games are against teams currently slotted to make the playoffs.
The big matchup for both Orlando and Miami is when the two teams meet Tuesday, March 26 at American Airlines Arena in Miami. That game may very well go along way in determining which team will represent the state of Florida in this year’s playoffs.