Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Heat have clinched the Southeast Division and have just about sewn up the number two seed in the Eastern Conference barring a complete collapse by either the number one seeded Chicago Bulls or by the Heat.
While there’s still seven games left in the regular season, the Heat can already start looking towards the playoffs and the potential first round matchup possibilities.
If the season ended Monday, the Heat would be matched up with the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the playoffs. The potential matchup with the 76ers could be music to the ears of Heat fans because the Heat is undefeated against Philadelphia this season.
But, the potential matchup with Philadelphia could change in a few different scenarios. Currently, Philadelphia would be the seven seed in the Eastern Conference. The 76ers are a half game ahead of the New York Knicks and just three games behind the Orlando Magic and the Atlanta Hawks.
The Knicks have been playing inspired basketball lately, even while not having point guard Jeremy Lin and power forward/center Amar’e Stoudemire in the starting lineup. A winning streak by the Knicks combined with a losing streak by the 76ers will easily push New York into the seven spot.
The Orlando Magic has collapsed in the last few weeks. Superstar center Dwight Howard is out for the rest of the regular season and team officials have been quoted as saying he’s 50-50 at best for the playoffs due to a back problem. The Magic has lost seven out of their last 10 games, though did notch a victory in their last game.
There’s also the Boston Celtics who are just one half game ahead of both Atlanta and Orlando in the Eastern Conference.
Needless to say, the Heat’s first round opponent is very much in flux heading into the final two weeks of the regular season.
As for the Heat, they have two tough games coming up against the Chicago Bulls and against the Boston Celtics. The Heat also has easy games against Toronto on Wednesday and two games against the woeful Washington Wizards in the last week of the regular season.