Miami made headlines with its blockbuster acquisition of Goran Dragic at last week’s trade deadline. The Heat appeared to be in position to make the playoffs and possibly win a series. Fans envisioned a matchup against Cleveland, in which the team had a chance to knock a LeBron James-led team out of the playoffs, something no Eastern Conference team was able to accomplish while the four-time MVP was in Miami.
Less than 24 hours after the trade, the optimism surrounding the team faded. Medical tests indicated that Chris Bosh had multiple blood clots in his lungs and although he was released from the hospital today, as Surya Fernandez of Fox Sports relays, the center remains out for the rest of the season. The news was obviously devastating to Bosh and the team.
On the court, it leaves Miami with a clear void. Bosh was averaging 21.1 points and 7.0 rebounds in 35.4 minutes per game this season. The team signed Michael Beasley to a 10-day contract earlier this week. The former No. 2 overall pick has some experience playing the four spot but has been a hindrance on the defensive end in the past. The Heat had interest in Andray Blatche earlier this season and he would be a more traditional option to replace some of Bosh’s production.
Finding that production over its remaining games is crucial. The race for the seventh and eighth seed in the conference looks to be a tight one down the stretch. The Heat, Pacers, Pistons, Celtics, Hornets and Nets are all within three games of each other in the loss column entering Saturday night. After tonight’s loss against Atlanta, Miami has 24 games left, with seven of those against the teams in this clustered race for the last two playoff spots. Another 12 games are against teams with a better record than the Heat. With a tough schedule and a roster that lacks depth, the team’s small lead in the race for the playoffs could evaporate with just a short stretch of poor play or an additional injury.
If Dragic can fit in seamlessly and play at a star-caliber level, Miami has a chance to maintain its current position. The franchise paid a hefty price to acquire the 28-year-old. The Heat surrendered two first round picks, as well as several reserves, to bring Dragic aboard but they could have waited until the offseason to try to acquire him via free agency. Miami was on the guard’s shortlist of teams that he desired to play for but the team would have been forced to make corresponding moves in order to meet Dragic’s expected salary demands, as Chuck Myron of Hoops Rumors notes. By not waiting and paying such a price midseason, it was a clear sign that the team’s priority was not only to acquire Dragic, but also to improve the team this season in order to make a substantial postseason run.
After the highs and lows that Miami has endured recently, will the Heat be making a postseason appearance?