MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Heat’s improbable and memorable season came up one game short of the playoffs.
Just like that, the Heat went from playoff potential to the offseason.
It was a case where winning was not enough.
When they were done beating the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night, the Pacers-Hawks game was piped into the American Airlines Arena.
It quickly became clear that the Heat’s postseason dreams were over.
Indiana didn’t lose and neither did the Chicago Bulls, both teams punching their playoff ticket while the Heat are forced to sit and watch.
Miami misses out on the playoffs but the team earned a measure of redemption that few thought possible.
“No one deserves it like the Heat deserve it,” said Heat fan Allison Fitzsimmons. “The Heat turned around their season, after the first half they turned it around. They deserve it more than anybody deserves it and so they should be in it versus the Pacers or the Bulls, not that anyone we know plays for the Bulls.”
Still, even Dwyane Wade would have to be proud of his old team’s about face.
After losing 30 of its first 41 games, the Heat turned into a juggernaut going 30-11 in the second half of the season.
“We have next year to look forward to,” said Heat fan Kevin Serillo. “We’ll be alright. We’ve got a strong squad coming in, we’ve got some money to spend this summer.”
That thought was of little consolation to the coach and players who wanted to punctuate their record breaking turnaround by playing more than the standard 82 game schedule.
But even in losing out on a trip to the playoffs, the team realizes it gained a chemistry that even those powerhouse Heat teams may not have had.
“We became more of a team as the season went on,” said Heat center Hassan Whiteside. “It was kinda like a movie. It was crazy, to be honest.”
“They have nothing to be ashamed of,” added team captain Udonis Haslem. “It’s been an amazing ride for me, coming from somebody who has won three [championship] rings and been around for 14 years. This has probably been one of the more enjoyable rides for me.”
Afterwards, coach Erik Spoelstra sys it felt like losing in the NBA Finals.
It wasn’t, but a team that prides itself on a winning culture still proved a point.