(AP) — On the brink of missing the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons, the Miami Heat will try their best to close out this disappointing campaign on a positive note.READ MORE: Erika Verdecia's Confessed Murderer Eric Pierson Had Other Victims
The Heat host the Orlando Magic on Monday night and must win their final two games to have any chance of reaching the postseason.
Barring a miraculous turn of events, Miami (35-45) won’t get an opportunity to reach a fifth consecutive NBA Finals. Following Saturday’s 107-104 defeat to visiting Toronto, the Heat will miss the playoffs with either one more loss or one more win by Brooklyn. The Nets host Chicago on Monday before closing the season Wednesday versus the visiting Magic. The Heat finish up in Philadelphia on Wednesday.
“Nobody needs to feel sorry for any of us,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “‘This is what you sign up for in this business. You don’t know what’s going to happen … and this year has had its challenges for all of us. But we’ve been grinding and fighting.”
Injuries and illness have played a major role in the Heat’s lackluster showing, most notably Chris Bosh’s blood clots in his lungs. Josh McRoberts and Shabazz Napier are recovering from surgery, and Henry Walker has been dealing with soreness in his left elbow.
Hassan Whiteside has attempted to play with 10 stitches in his right hand. He made six of eight shots from the field while finishing with 16 points and 18 rebounds in Miami’s sixth loss in seven games, but missed 12 of 16 from the free throw line.
“Injuries are part of the game. It’s not always who is the most talented team. It’s who can stay the healthiest and we weren’t able to do that this year to give ourselves a chance,” said guard Dwyane Wade, who scored 30 points.READ MORE: 'Public Service Is In My DNA': Ousted Miami Police Chief Art Acevedo On His Firing & COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates
Wade will try next to lead the Heat to a 12th win in 13 meetings with the Magic (25-55).
Orlando won 102-101 at Miami on Dec. 29, and took the Heat to overtime in a 93-90 loss in the latest matchup Feb. 25.
The Magic have dropped back-to-back games by a combined three points after winning a season high-tying three straight. They couldn’t overcome one of their worst offensive performances of the season in an 80-79 defeat to New York on Saturday.
Despite shooting 35.7 percent, Orlando rallied from a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter to take a lead with 4:21 left but gave up the go-ahead 3-pointer with 13 seconds to go in its home finale.
“It’s a disappointing effort, disappointing game,” interim coach James Borrego said. “It’s a learning moment for us all. It’s a hurdle we have to get through, and for us to make the next step, we’ve got to figure out how to win a game like this.”
Magic center Nikola Vucevic is averaging 28.3 points in three games against the Heat this season, his best mark against any team in 2014-15.MORE NEWS: Accused Hollywood Cop Killer Jason Banegas Transferred To Broward Jail
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